The Sad 442nd vs. 100th Rivalry
Wednesday - August 24, 2005
Toughest column to write. Hardest things to say.
I felt sadness at this year’s 63rd anniversary luncheon of the veterans of the AJA 100th Infantry Battalion of WWII fame.
100th Sons & Daughters president Warren Yamamoto, a vet’s son, ran through a litany of his inheritor-group doing not much of anything this year. Not enough volunteers, he said.
Nobody cares? Well, they care, but the vets’ kids and grandkids have their own lives to lead and you can’t blame them if they find little time to devote to the memory of the few surviving guys who proved the loyalty of AJAs in Hawaii and changed our society. Life moves on. Even the Pearl Harbor anniversary is becoming less of a big deal. The real problem is that the 500 battalion survivors (they started with 1,500 soldiers) who are club members well into their 80s talk and quibble and toss out this idea and that but can’t come to consensus. Can’t make a decision on what to do about their legacy. There should have been a marvelous museum for them and the other AJA soldiers, but it’s a bit late in the game for that.
The 100th Battalion vets started their club with a $2-amonth paycheck deduction while overseas, and eventually bought a worthy property across from Iolani School that has a large clubhouse and an adjacent three-story apartment building that’s rental income. Until a few year ago, they called it the Club 100. But some outsiders thought it was a nightclub, so they switched to the 100th Battalion Veterans Club.
The much-later-organized 442nd Regimental Combat Team vets (Dan Inouye most prominent) would buy their own clubhouse in the McCully area.
But never the two clubs should meet.
You see, the 100th was first to war, was all-Hawaii (except for Young Oak Kim, a mainland Korean the Army figured was same-same as Japanese and so transferred him to the 100th), and the guys resented being incorporated into the much-later-to-war and not-all- Hawaii 442nd after getting big press for their fighting at Anzio, Cassino and the road into Rome.
So there’s a 100th Battalion clubhouse, a 442nd Clubhouse, a 100th yearly luncheon, a 442nd yearly luncheon, a 100th memorial service and a 442nd memorial service.
Pretty odd, yeah? Not if you’re a 100th veteran and even differentiate between an original soldier and a replacement soldier.
Now they have the 100th originals and replacements dying with frequency. OK, gotta do something about the property and non-profit club! But what? Hey, let’s talk about it some more.
The 100th vets are sitting on a gazillion-dollar property that long ago should have been high-rise developed with ground-level clubhouse-andpoker- room rights reserved for the last old soldiers. They could have funded endless scholarships with the loot. Instead, they’re bemoaning their dwindling pot of money and asking the public for repairs donations.
They could have had a whole museum of photos and war artifacts as a legacy for America, and a first-class clubhouse and poker room.
They seem bereft of the visionary leadership of yesteryear.
They’ve long argued about how much money the 442nd guys should be made to pay if they were allowed to join the 100th guys on the bigger, better property.
At the 100th Battalion luncheon, I was seated with Edwin Goto, representing the 442nd. Judge Frank Takao representing the Military Intelligence Service.
When the 442nd has its luncheon, somebody is invited to represent the 100th and the MIS.
• 9,486 Purple Hearts.
• 18,143 individual decorations.
• 21 Medals of Honor.
But they can’t have a common luncheon, a common Punchbowl memorial service, a common clubhouse.
Ganko na — stubborn.
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