Maui Arts & Entertainment

Nisei Veterans Memorial Center begins exhibit of “One Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion”

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The Nisei Veterans Memorial Center launches its exhibit of “One Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion,” at the center located at 665 Kahului Beach Road. The free exhibit is by appointment only, Monday through Saturday. To schedule a viewing, call the center at 808-244-6862.

This exhibit sheds light on the formation and remarkable journey of the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), famously known as the “Purple Heart Battalion,” during World War II, through its time at Monte Casino in Italy.

The 100th Infantry Battalion was formed in the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Comprised almost entirely of nisei (second-generation Japanese) from Hawaiʻi, who were integral members of the 298th and 299th National Guard units, the battalion holds the distinction of being the first group of Japanese-Americans to engage in combat during World War II.


Enduring a 20-month stint in combat, from Sept. 29, 1943, until Germany’s surrender on May 2, 1945, the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) demonstrated extraordinary valor and resilience. The battalion’s immense contributions and gallantry during the war were recognized with three Presidential Unit Citations. Notably, the 3,147 soldiers who served in the battalion were awarded a total of 4,340 individual medals and honors, including 1,703 Purple Heart medals, bestowed upon those wounded or killed in US military service.

The 100th Infantry Battalion’s role during combat in Italy earned them the moniker of the “Purple Heart Battalion.” Moreover, battalion members’ achievements played a significant role in reshaping the perspectives of military and political leaders, who had initially banned the enlistment of Japanese-Americans in the war effort. The soldiers’ gallantry and dedication paved the way for the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The “One Puka-Puka: The Purple Heart Battalion” exhibit at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center provides visitors an opportunity to delve into the history of the 100th Battalion. Through meticulously curated displays and informative narratives, this exhibit pays homage to the brave soldiers and their selfless sacrifices during a defining chapter in our nation’s history.


To ensure a safe and enriching experience for all visitors, attendance to the exhibit is by appointment only. Interested individuals and groups can schedule their visit by contacting the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center at 808-244-6862 or via email at  [email protected].

The exhibit is an opportunity to honor the legacy of the “Purple Heart Battalion.” Visitors can gain profound insights into the battalion’s remarkable wartime journey.

The Center also gratefully accepts tax-deductible donations. To donate, visit


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