New Exhibit Features Nisei Veteran Legion of Honor Recipients
By Maui Now Staff
A new exhibit featuring 18 recent recipients of France’s Legion of Honor medal is now available for viewing at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.
The exhibit opened on May 11 and runs through August 15, 2015. It is free and open to the public from noon to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. While admission is free, donations will be graciously accepted.
The recipients were honored with the medal in January for their contributions toward liberating France from German occupation during World War II.
The exhibit features biographies and photographs of the honorees. There are also descriptions of the battles in which the men participated in as they fought to liberate France. This includes the famous Rescue of the Lost Battalion in the Vosges Mountains, for which the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations.
The installation is cosponsored by Maui’s Sons and Daughters of Nisei Veterans and the NVMC.
A co-chair for the exhibit is Howard Ikeda, son of Takeo “Ike” Ikeda, one of the Legion of Honor awardees. “After reading veterans’ biographies and war articles, I have a greater understanding of what they went through in France. They sacrificed their lives and fought with courage in many battles to bring freedom to the people of France. This exhibit has given me the opportunity to share the veterans’ stories and experiences on the war in France,” said Ikeda.
Assisting Ikeda is Kyle Watanabe, NVMC historical preservation and education coordinator, and David Fukuda, co-chair of the Legion of Honor exhibit and an NVMC board member.
The exhibit panels were designed by Debra Lumpkins, who has been responsible for most of the NVMC poster designs since the Education Center opened two years ago.
Another battle featured at the exhibit space is Operation Dragoon, the airborne invasion in southern France of August 1944. The 442nd Antitank Company took to the air in C41 gliders to support the mission. On display are models of the gliders as well a piece of canvas from a glider skin. The canvas came from the glider that carried a soldier from Maui, Edwin Kokubun, who donated the souvenir the NVMC archives. Masanobu Sakuma, Maui’s last survivor of this glider operation, passed away earlier this year. He was among the Legion of Honor recipients as well.
Ikeda contacted all of the honored veterans and their families in an effort to gather photographs and other memorabilia for the exhibit. “The families were very supportive and cooperative by providing information needed for the exhibit,” Ikeda said. “It has been a rewarding experience getting to know each family.”
Co-Chair David Fukuda who had worked with the veterans in filing the applications also commented saying, “It was a great honor for me to work with each one of these veterans. Their stories are individually and collectively remarkable lessons in courage, patriotism, humility and compassion.”
The exhibit is the fourth that the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center has featured over the last two years. The exhibit helps the NVMC’s fulfill its mission of perpetuating the legacy of the Nisei soldiers of World War II and their service to the community.