UH awards posthumous degrees to 2 Kaua‘i veterans

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i at Manoa has awarded posthumous degrees to seven Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets who were killed in action during World War II while serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, including two cadets from Kaua‘i.

The degrees were presented to the next-of-kin of these fallen warriors during the ROTC Spring 2012 Commissioning Ceremony on May 14.

The Kaua‘i honorees were Daniel Betsui, of Hanapepe, and Howard Urabe, of Kapa‘a. Other honorees were Jenhatsu Chinen, of Helemano, O‘ahu, Robert Murata, of Honolulu, O‘ahu, Grover Nagaji, of Honolulu, O‘ahu, of Akio Nishikawa, Pa‘ia, Maui and Hiroichi Tomita, of Wailuku, Maui.

The seven honorees were students and ROTC cadets enrolled at UH Manoa on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. In the hours following the bombing, all UH ROTC cadets were told to report to duty, forming the Hawai‘i Territorial Guard, which was assigned to guard military installations on O‘ahu. A month later, members who were of Japanese ancestry were expelled from the HTG because of their ethnicity.

The students petitioned Delos Emmons, the military governor of the Territory of Hawai‘i, and were allowed to form a civilian labor battalion that became known as the Varsity Victory Volunteers. The VVV dug ditches, built roads and military installations, strung barbed wire and broke rocks at Kolekole quarry.

In February, at an event sponsored by the Go For Broke National Education Center to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the formation of the VVV, UH Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw announced that the university would honor these seven men with degrees.

“One of the goals of education institutions is for students to enter to learn and go forth to serve,” she said. “These individuals may not have completed their university studies but they earned their degrees in full by serving our nation with distinction and paying the ultimate sacrifice.”

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