HONOLULU – U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris,
Jr., was among a group of more than 300 who gathered for the
awarding of the French Legion of Honor to 34 World War II Nisei
veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment, Jan. 23 at the
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
France's highest award
was presented to the Nisei veterans by Consul Gen. Pauline Carmona,
who flew in from the French Consulate in San Francisco for the
special ceremony. Ranging from 90 to 96 years old, the veterans were
also honored as “Chevalier dans l'Ordre national de la L�gion
d'honneur” (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of
Honor) for their participation in the liberation of France during
World War II. Some of the veterans to receive the honor passed away
after the award was approved.
Harris commended the “American
Patriots” in an emotional keynote address.
Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks at a ceremony honoring World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
on January 23, 2015. During the ceremony, 34 veterans were presented the French Legion of Honor for their efforts in the liberation of France. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian M. Wilbur)
“And now the names of these brave veterans here today
will be added to that very select group of international
heroes, and that honor is well deserved,” said Harris. “For
each of you are heroes who served on the front lines, fought
in the battles, bled on the battlefield and helped liberate
a nation. Gentlemen, your deeds are the stuff of legends.”
Harold Kudo of the 442nd
Regimental Combat Team and president of the Maunalani
Veterans Club showed his appreciation for the recognition
“We are grateful for the support we
receive. Thank you families and friends for being who you
are, our ohana,” said Kudo. “To you fellow veterans, thank
you for your military service. To the Consul General of
France, merci beaucoup for today.”
regimental Combat Team was composed of Japanese Americans –
most of whom were from Hawaii. The current commander of the
Army's 100th Battalion 442nd Infantry Regiment, Lt. Col.
Daniel J. Austin spoke of how the Nisei veterans overcoming
tremendous obstacles continue to inspire those serving in
the military today.
“I am positive that none of our
veterans here on stage today fought 74 years ago for all of
the honors and accolades they would receive over the
decades,” said Austin. “They made a decision not knowing the
future. They made a decision at a time when their nation did
not live up to its ideals; did not accept their values as
citizens. So yes, their war record is enviable. What amazing
warriors, and perhaps even more remarkable, is their
Both Austin and Harris noted the need to
never forget what the Nisei veterans accomplished.
“Our nation draws her strength from those who served in the
past, like these veterans of World War II,” said Harris.
“Our nation draws her strength from those who serve today,
like those in uniform seated throughout the audience. And
our nation will continue to draw her strength from those who
freely volunteer to serve and defend our nation as members
of our armed forces. Those who serve are part of an unbroken
chain, linking Americans, generation to generation.”
By U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian M. Wilbur
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