In the accompanying picture are six Kauai soldiers of the Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion on leave in Hawaii following 18 months of combat in Italy.
They will soon be home on Kauai, yet the strain of battle remains etched upon their faces.
Born in Koloa, Pfc. Sukeichi Ono became a purchasing agent with Hale Kauai in Nawiliwili after the war and reached the venerable old age of 92.
Cpl. Sadao Kawamoto of Lihue was later the owner/operator of Kawamoto Barber Shop in Lihue and a member of Club 100.
In 1984, he traveled to Monte Cassino, Italy, the site of one of bitterest battles of World War II, where the 100th Bn. fought valiantly against fierce German resistance, and where he was wounded.
Kawamoto passed away in 1995 and was survived by his wife, Kazue, and children Ann, Susan, Wesley and Miles.
Cpl. Yoshio Okimoto was born in Wailua and attended Koolau School before the war. He died in Honolulu at the age of 68.
Pfc. Seichi Tengan was the proprietor of Tengan Phillips 66 Service Station in Honolulu, and left behind his wife, Agnes, and children James, Joanne and Amy when he passed on in 1976.
Cpl. Tazuto Kobayashi also born in Koloa, was a Club 100 member and retired as a painter. He died in 1998 in Honolulu.
Sgt. Masanobu Mukai of Lihue was born in Hanamaulu and became the owner/manager of Kauai Veterans Service Station. He lived to be 85 and was survived by his wife, Shimoe, and daughter Julie.
The 100th Infantry Battalion was comprised almost entirely of Nisei, second generation Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJAs), all from the Territory of Hawaii.
Its original complement of 1,432 officers and men adopted the unit nickname “One Puka Puka,” Hawaiian for 100.
After landing in North Africa in September 1943, the 100th Battalion fought in Italy with extraordinary heroism, and by February 1944, after having suffered nearly 800 casualties, was nicknamed “The Purple Heart Battalion.”
In June 1944, the 100th became part of the 442nd “Go for Broke” Regimental Combat Team.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share theisland’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at email@example.com