The French Legion of Honour Medal to be Presented to 6 World War II Nisei Veterans in Honolulu
- Khon 2: Nisei veterans of 442nd Infantry Regiment honored with La Legion D’Honneur award by Pamela Young
Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii, Guillaume Maman joined Consul General of France in San Francisco, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens to bestow France’s highest decoration - Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honor - to six (6) Nisei Veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army in Hawaii for their courageous and heroic acts in France during World War II.
This solemn ceremony was held as part of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of France also known as the D-Day Landings or the Battle of Normandy.
The distinguished six veterans to be honored are:
Royce Eiko Higa, 522nd FAB, A Battery, was born in Honolulu in 1920, the third of six children born to Kama and Ushi Yogi Higa, immigrants from Okinawa. He worked from the age of six, leaving school as a teen to work in the sugarcane fields and on the docks. After the war he returned to Hawaii and married Portia Komori. Mr. Higa earned an undergraduate degree in Education from George Williams College, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan. During his career he ran health and community programs for the disadvantaged. Mr. Higa finished three Honolulu Marathons, and enjoys playing bridge, for which he earned the Life Master status. His wife, Portia, passed away in 1981. He has three daughters and two grandchildren.
Hidenobu Hiyane, Headquarters Company, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), was born in Kapaa, Kauai in 1918, the third of six children born to Taru and Matsu Hiyane, immigrants from Takaesu, Okinawa. In 1925, the family moved to Oahu where he graduated from McKinley High, and took a job fixing and selling radios. He was drafted into the Army in 1941, just three weeks before December 7. His radio knowledge got him assigned to Headquarters Company as a radio operator. After the war, he attended DeForest Training School in Chicago, where he met and married Hisae Ochikubo. They returned to Oahu and Mr. Hiyane worked for the Army at Hele-mano Receiver Station monitoring and repairing teletype equipment for government communications. After his retirement from the Army, he worked for 12 years as a repairman and trainer for the Salvation Army. Mr. Hiyane enjoys “googling” nutrition/health on his computer, watching nature programs, and doing word search puzzles. He still does Morse code under his breath! His wife, Hisae, passed away in 2018. He has two daughters and three grandsons.
George Kenichi Oide, 522nd FAB, Headquarters Battery, was born in Honolulu in 1923, the youngest of eight children born to Matsutaro and Hayano Oide, immigrants from Hiroshima, Japan. He trained as part of the Army’s forward observer team. At the end of the war, he was assigned to occupation duty in Germany where he met, and married Erika Minna Berta. They had a second ceremony at the Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu. Mr. Oide worked as a printer for the Honolulu Advertiser; then as a compositor/typesetter for the Honolulu Star Bulletin. He later became the President of "TYPO", a company that provided typesetting and proof-reading services. Erika Oide passed away in 1999. Mr. Oide lives in Honolulu. He has three children, three grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
Clinton Ikuzo Shiraishi, 522nd FAB, Headquarters Battery was born in 1921 in Paia, Maui, the eldest of five children born to Ikuji and Tomo Shiraishi, immigrants from Fukuoka and Hiroshima Japan, respectively. After graduating from Maui High, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Maui, and later for the Army civil service with the 51st Quartermaster (QM) Corps, in Honolulu. On August 25, 1944 near Florence, Italy, SGT Shiraishi was combat wounded in the upper leg by artillery shrapnel. After the war, he graduated from Gregg College and the University of Illinois. In 1953, he graduated 3rd in his class from the John Marshall Law School. Upon his return to Hawaii, he served as Kauai District Court Magistrate, as well as in the state’s House of Representatives, Senate, and local council. He founded Kauai Realty Incorpo-rated, and he remains the Company’s President. In 1950, Mr. Shiraishi married Fumiko Okada. Both live at the Regency at Puakea retirement community in Lihue, Kauai. They have three sons, six grandchildren, and three great grandchil-dren.
Koichi Harry Tokushige, 522nd FAB, A Battery, was born in Eleele, Kauai, in 1924, the fifth of eight children born to Chohachi "Wallace" and Shizue Tokushige, immigrants from Fukuoka, Japan. He graduated from Kauai High, and then worked for Kauai Electric Company. In the Army he trained as a Field Artillery Cannoneer. After the war, Mr. Tokushige earned an undergraduate degree in Finance and Accounting from Drake University, and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Stanford University. He also married Doris Sachie. He worked as a public accountant and served in state government in the Taxation and Education Departments. After retiring from state government, he became the East-West Center’s business manager. Doris passed away in 2015. Mr. Tokushige lives in Honolulu. He has one son, two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Paul Sanji Watanabe, 232nd Combat Engineer Company, was born in 1922, in Hilo, the second of five children born to Umekichi and Suye Watanabe, immigrants from Niigata, Japan. He graduated from Hilo High in 1943. Mr. Watanabe volunteered for the Army and was inducted and trained as an infantry assault "pioneer" (combat engineer). During the Rome-Arno Allied Offensive Campaign in Italy, PFC Watanabe was combat wounded by shrapnel in the left abdo-men. Medically treated, he remained with his unit. On October 31, 1944 during mine clearing operations, a "Bouncing Betty" mine wounded PFC Watanabe in the foot and permanently damaged his hearing. Mr. Watanabe had a career as an electrician at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. After retiring in 1983, he worked at the Hawaii Kai Golf Course. Mr. Watanabe is married to Betty Kiyoko Matoi and they reside in Honolulu. They have two children and one grandson.
Posting of Colors was conducted by the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment Color Guard. Singing of the anthems was provided by Sandy Tsukiyama. Prelude music by Kevin Morita.