The four surviving members of the original Varsity Victory Volunteers gathered for a special reunion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Thursday.
The members honored were: Ted Tsukiyama, Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani, Akira Otani and Takashi Kajihara.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, university ROTC members were called to duty.
Six weeks later, all men of Japanese ancestry were dismissed and classified as Class C-Enemy Aliens.
In response, they formed the Varsity Victory Volunteers. Their mantra was “If the United States does not trust us with a gun, trust us with a shovel,” and they performed tasks like building barracks.
“The University of Hawaii has been a part of our life, and for the university to accept us as you know, very integral parts, I think is very important for us,” said Fujitani.
Scott Hayashi’s father was also a Volunteer.
“You know my dad was a very humble guy, he grew up with nothing and sacrificed. You know, a lot of the veterans they joined and really made it easy for our generation to move forward and achieve things that they paved the way for us,” Hayashi said.
The Varsity Victory Volunteers disbanded in 1943 and went on to make up the core of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Others served in Military Intelligent Service and the Office of Strategic Service, the forerunner to the CIA.
Watch a video of the event by the University of Hawaii:
President David Lassner speaks at the ceremony: