Hawaii’s famed 442nd to be honored with a museum

Local News

Honoring Hawaii members of the Greatest Generation is an effort to carry forward their legacy for future generations.

Many of them volunteered for military service for the United States while their parents and siblings were interned in relocation camps. 

They were members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

Mel Kaneshige, president of the 442nd Legacy Center says, “These small, five-foot-two Japanese guys, fought all these guys, and a lot of them obviously died and you saw the list outside.”

The 442nd Clubhouse in Moiliili honors its fallen at its entrance — before all who would enter — see anything else. 

Kaneshige says, “They were the most highly decorated unit in the history — the history, of the U.S. Army.”

The clubhouse is to be renovated — and a museum to honor their achievements, will be included.

Kaneshige says, “When they came back from the war, they got into economics, they got into schools, they got into law schools especially, they became legislators. And they were the backbone of the 1954 Democratic Revolution, you know, and they took over a lot of the spots in city and state government and then federal government as well, when we became a state.”

Karl Okemura, president of the 442nd Veterans Center, says 442nd Veterans Club Past President William Thompson, who died last year, was the visionary behind the plan.

“He always had this dream to build the Legacy Center and I think we’re finally going to get it done for him and hoping that we can do it while we still have vets alive.”

When McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board member Samuel Kippen learned about the planned museum, he invited the 442nd groups to make a presentation to the board.

“To inform the folks present … that this is something that’s going on, and something that hopefully we can support as a community in some way going forward.”
Not yet ready to raise funds — the veterans club does welcome donations of archival materials and items that might become part of exhibits to be shared with similar museums around the country.

The meeting is Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Middle School Cafeteria, at 1633 South King Street.

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