They paid our price

LIHUE — The message across the flag said “We Will Never Forget.”

“We don’t know where the Kauai Missing In Action Memorial will be,” said Kelly Braun of the Kauai MIA Foundation. “It might be in Hanapepe, it might be free-standing, or it could even be in the Kauai Veterans Center, but we need to start raising funds so when the decision on where the memorial will be located, we will be ready.”

Braun was joined by Akiyo Matsuyama of Lihue whose brother, Pfc. Takeshi Sasaki, is one of the Kauai MIA from the Korean War.

Joining Sasaki, Sgt. Jose Balalong, Cpl. Sidney Kaui, Cpl. Mitsuyoshi Ishida, and Cpl. Muneo Yaka are the Kauai MIA from the Korean War.

The Kauai Veterans Council and the Veterans of Foreign Wars took time out on July 4 to host the Veterans Roundup, an event that allows veterans and their families of all wars and branches of service to come together for fellowship and learn about services available for veterans.

Work on the Kauai Hospice “Concert in the Sky” continued in the adjacent Vidinha Stadium soccer fields to celebrate Independence Day, the activity being watched by veterans Milton Oshiro, Gus Garcia, and Alan Tasaka who manned grills for burgers, hot dogs and other Independence Day fare for veterans and their families — the people who pay the price of independence.

“We have Tracey Betts, the Hawaii director for the Veterans Affairs here, today,” said Ed Kawamura, a strong advocate for veterans and the Veterans Helping Veterans program. “It’s not every day that the big boss for veterans benefits comes to visit.”

Betts, while chatting with Eric Nordmeier of the WorkWise program, said she needs to connect the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation person with Nordmeier.

Diane Mikami of the American Legion had her hands full tallying door prizes, getting help from Be Chandler of the VFW ahead of the arrival of veterans and their families.

Jim Jung had just gotten his American Legion cap, and along with the cap, received word he was confirmed as the American Legion chaplain.

“I can put my pins on this cap, now,” Jung said. “I can even have ‘Chaplain’ embroidered on it where the title goes.”

Jonathan Hoomanawanui of the AFW, most recently a veteran of Desert Storm, said the AFW is hosting the event along with the Kauai Veterans Center.

Among those attending were Whitey Kurasaki, a veteran of from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Kazuma “Monty” Nishie, a veteran of the 100th Infantry Battalion, both men being recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal last year.

“Monty is wearing a special shirt from Honolulu which was created celebrating the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Celia Nishie, Monty’s wife. “He’s going to be 98 years old, July 25.”

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