Vernon Kiyoshi Saiki

Vernon Kiyoshi Saiki (1919-1964) was born in Kapa‘a and attended Kapa‘a High School and the University of North Dakota prior to being inducted into the Army at Fort Snelling, Minn., in October 1941 and assigned to the Medical Corps.

Then, in 1942, he was accepted into the Army Specialized Service Training Program at Harvard, a course designed to train students for military government work in occupied countries.

When the school was disbanded about a year later, Saiki was reassigned to the 328th Infantry Regt. of the 26th “Yankee” Division.

His record as a Japanese American soldier during WWII is unusual, because he was one of only a few Americans of Japanese ancestry to serve as an infantryman in a unit other than the Army’s 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The 26th Division entered combat in France in October 1944, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the Ardennes breakthrough and continued advancing into Germany and Austria.  In May 1945, it liberated the Nazis’ brutal Gusen concentration camp.  

As an infantryman with the 26th Division, Pfc. Saiki was awarded the silver star for gallantry in action, the bronze star for bravery and the purple heart after being wounded in Metz, France.

After WWII, Saiki earned a teaching certificate from the University of Hawai‘i and a master’s degree from Harvard.

He then taught for five years in Hawai‘i public schools and worked for five years in Hawai‘i in personnel positions in government and industry before he and his wife, Violet, and their children, Cheryl and Kathleen, moved to Japan in 1963, where he became educational director at Misawa Air Force Base.

He died suddenly on May 22, 1964, of a cerebral problem and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.