Volunteers seek help to honor Congressional Gold Medal veterans

The community has an opportunity to help honor the veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service.

A volunteer committee is seeking contributions to be able to furnish veterans and their families of these combat teams with a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, which was presented during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 2, 2011 in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

While some of the veterans living on Kaua‘i were able to attend the ceremony in Washington, D.C., where they were presented replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal, many who served and their immediate families were unable to make the trip.

The volunteer committee and Kaua‘i Veterans will be hosting a ceremony and luncheon on May 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for those veterans and their families who were unable to attend the Washington, D.C. ceremony.

Several ceremonies were hosted by similar groups on the Neighbor Islands following the Washington, D.C. ceremony, and diligent Kaua‘i veterans of the 100th Btn, 442nd RCT and MIS made efforts to attend these ceremonies to represent those who were unable to make the inter-island flights.

Ed Kawamura of Veterans Helping Veterans said in addition to the surviving veterans of the honored combat teams, the committee has collected 200 names of veterans who served in the 100th Btn, the 442nd RCT and the MIS who have passed away and the committee wants to present the bronze replica to the deceased veteran’s next of kin.

“The sponsors for this award did not provide funds to cover medals to the deceased veterans, but we on the planning committee, feel it is only right to present on to the surviving next of kin,” Kawamura said. “We are the beneficiaries of their services which made this great nation and the freedom we enjoy. This ceremony affords us a way to pay tribute to those who served.”

Application forms for the bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal are available at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center on Kapule Highway in Lihu‘e and families of veterans who served in the 100th Btn, 442nd RCT and MIS are encouraged to fill out an application to ensure that no one is left out.

The volunteer committee plans to present the bronze replicas to those veterans and families who were unable to participate in the off-island ceremonies honoring their contribution to the nation during a period where they battled both the enemy in front of them and prejudice at home.

They need help. The committee estimates it needs to raise $20,000 to help cover the costs of the replica bronze medals for the surviving veterans and their immediate families.

It has established several levels of contributions with a suggested $100 donation for a Commendation sponsor. A $200 contribution earns a Purple Heart sponsorship, $500 a Bronze Star sponsorship, a $1,000 contribution a Silver Star and a $2,000, or more, contribution earning an Honor Medal sponsorship.

It is through the kindness and generosity of the community that this event will be memorable and a successful celebration for Kaua‘i’s World War II veterans and their families, a committee spokesperson said.

There is a suggested deadline of May 15 for contributions to meet the May 30 ceremony and checks should be made out to the West Kaua‘i Club 100 and mailed to 3215 Kapule Highway, Lihu‘e, HI 96766.

Call 245-1135 for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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