Friday, April 1, 2011

Never Too Late


So Glad YOU Came Today

Honolulu at Peace

"Gratitude is the memory of the heart."

  Jean Baptiste Massieu, 
translated from French

Honolulu in Wartime, WWII

This evening
 in site of the iconic Aloha Tower,
  on the deck of French naval ship
 PS Prairial during  port call here,
  A local man, retired attorney
Genro Kashiwa, 87,
 will be awarded France's highest civilian honor:
 the Legion of Honor
 and rank of chevalier (knight). 

He will be
 the second member
 of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team
 to be so honored by a grateful French nation.  

Nisei World War II veteran
 Genro Kashiwa

"Why me?"
 He asked a reporter.
"There were lot of other people
 doing more heroic things."


Kashiwa said
 he'll accept the award
 for "his old gang."

While serving with the "Go For Broke"
442nd Regimental Combat Team
in France and Italy, 
Kashiwa earned two Silver Stars,
 a Bronze Star
 and a Purple Heart.

 The Army unit was made up mainly of
 who volunteered to prove their loyalty.

 Kashiwa's own father
Ryuten Kashiwa, a minister at Oahu's
 Waialua Hongwanji
was sent to an internment camp
 in Crystal City, Texas, as an enemy alien.

Mr. Kashiwa told a reporter,
that he remembers the details of battles
 that happened so long ago,
 and that
 "receiving the Chevalier Legion of Honor
 is almost a surreal experience - 
that events of over 65 years ago
 are being remembered today
 by the French government."

In his personal history of the French campaign,
 Kashiwa said following the famous "Banzai Charge" 
by fellow soldiers of the 442nd, 
his company ran into a German machine gun nest 
on the ridge line of a mountain in November 1944.

Kashiwa assumed command of his platoon 
when its sergeant was wounded 
and had to be evacuated.
According to his Silver Star citation,
Kashiwa took his platoon through a minefield,
 surprised the Germans and killed three enemy soldiers, silencing the machine gun.

Two of his soldiers were wounded in the firefight. Kashiwa is credited with treating their wounds under fire and directing their evacuations.

He received his Silver Star Oak Leaf Cluster, signifying a second award of the nation's highest medal for valor, during the Italian campaign in Mount Fologorito.

In Italy in April 1945,
 Kashiwa was in charge of a platoon
 assigned to clear the summit of a mountain
 to prevent a German counterattack.

After a personal reconnaissance, 
he directed one squad to attempt to move around
 the base of the summit
 and take the enemy from the rear
 while he led the other squad
 in a frontal assault.

His squad was able to almost reach the top
 before it was detected.

 Catching the enemy soldiers
10 yards away from their machine guns,
 Kashiwa rushed forward and cut off the Germans
 from their weapons. 

Kashiwa's tommy gun jammed 
after firing one shot,
 but the German soldiers, 
apparently confused, fled.

Kashiwa grabbed a German machine gun
 and fired it on the fleeing soldiers,
 forcing them to seek shelter in a reinforced bunker.

  Then he crawled alone to within grenade range
 and threw two grenades
which forced the remaining six Germans
 to surrender, the Silver Star citation said.

After the war,
 Kashiwa attended University of Michigan law school
 and practiced law in Honolulu
from 1951 to 2005.

 Cpl. Jonathan Faircloth was 22 years old. 

"Gratitude is the least of the virtues,
 but ingratitude is the worst of vices."

Thomas Fuller

 This young man,
a U.S. Marine
 was killed Tuesday night 
when his CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter
 performed an emergency landing
 and crashed
 in the middle of Kaneohe Bay here on Oahu.

He hailed from Mechanicsburg,Pennsylvania
but all Hawaii military
are our people.

  His three fellow Marines
 remain hospitalized in stable condition
 at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

Cpl. Faircloth was married last January to the sister of a fellow marine.

 He and his wife Alicia lived in Kailua and enjoyed spending time outdoors
 hiking and at the beach.

Jon's father recalled his last trip from Pennsylvania to Hawaii in October.
"We were very blessed in that the last time we were with Jon 
we had three weeks uninterrupted with him,"
 said Dean Faircloth.

He says the last time he spoke with his son by phone
 was the day the helicopter went down.
"His last words were ‘I love you, dad,'" 
said an emotional Faircloth.
  "It was nice. 
He was only 22, but he didn't waste his life. 
He built something with it.
 We're proud of him.
  We are immensely proud."

"On a windswept hill
by a billowing sea,
my destiny sits
and waits for me."
Robert Brault