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442nd Infantry Today

Barbara Mizoguchi
NAP Editor

On May 27, the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC) sponsored the 79th annual memorial service at Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle. Everyone gathered near the Nisei War Memorial monument — a 22-foot-tall granite obelisk with major military campaigns inscribed.

For the 22nd year, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley was the Mistress of Ceremonies. Boy Scout Troop #252 presented the colors (flags) and the NVC’s Scholarship Award Recipient Danielle Hirano sang the national anthem. It was followed by the invocation, meditation and reflection by representatives from local Japanese American churches. Welcome remarks were provided by the current NVC Commander Dale Watanabe and former NVC Foundation President Shawn Brinsfield.

Watanabe reflected on an earlier capital campaign for their current building and pointed out that next year will be the 80th anniversary of NVC. He also mentioned that his uncle Ken Muramoto, a World War II veteran and 101 years old, was in attendance. Brinsfield mentioned that after World War II, there were approximately 70,000 unaccounted soldiers. In 1942 a story in The Seattle Times noted that a monument would be built in their honor. Today it rests at the Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle.

Edgewood “Edward” Ikebe was formally acknowledged at the ceremony. He was part of the Puyallup tribe and was incarcerated at the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in northeast California. Like many others, he left the center to serve in the U.S. Army. In 1945 Ikebe was reported missing in action in Sims, Germany, after German soldiers ran toward his company with machine guns. Today, he is memorialized at the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Luxembourg with a bronze star and purple heart. Unfortunately, because of misinformation that was circulated at the time, Ikebe became estranged from the Japanese American community. Ikebe’s daughter and grandchildren attended the service and were given a formal apology by Brinsfield.

The guest speaker was Roberto J. Whyte, First Lieutenant, Company C, 100-442nd Infantry, U.S.A. He mentioned that each new soldier is told about the World War II 442nd Infantry. In his talks with them, the lieutenant said he always stresses the integrity of those veterans and how they overcame adversity. He also makes it a point to mention the importance of inclusivity and diversity in today’s culture and the importance of maintaining the same enduring spirit demonstrated by those veterans. In conclusion, the lieutenant said that he hopes the current 442nd Infantry will continue to protect the veterans’ legacy.

Then 14 community organizations and churches each solemnly placed a large, floral wreath in front of the monument. After the sacred benediction, Taps was performed by one of the Boy Scout Bugle Corps and the colors were retired, thus ending the service.