AJA Veterans – “France Will Never Forget You …”

AJA Veterans – “France Will Never Forget You …”

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Gov. David Ige with the recent French Legion of Honor medal recipients (from left): Dale Tateishi, representing his late father, Pvt. 1st Class Tetsuo Tateishi, whose portrait he is holding; Pvt. 1st Class Futao Terashima and Pvt. 1s Class Harold Afuso. (Photo by Gregg Kakesako)

Four World War II Nisei Veterans Awarded French Legion of Honor Medal

Gregg K. Kakesako
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

It’s been nearly three-quarters of a century since the Nisei soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were engaged in one of the most vicious battles of World War II to liberate France. Despite the passage of those many decades, Guillaume Maman, honorary consul of France in Hawai‘i, assured them that “France will never forget you. We are forever grateful for your courage, your sacrifice and your valor.”

Since 2004, when 442nd veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Barney Hajiro was bestowed the rank of chevalier, or knight, 91 members of the 442nd RCT and the 100th Battalion have received the Legion of Honor medal and rank. It is France’s highest civilian award, honoring military and civilian excellence.

On Sept. 21, three more 442nd RCT and 100th Battalion veterans were presented the medal in a ceremony at the State Capitol. Maman presented the medals to Harold Zenyei Afuso, H Company, 2nd Battalion; and Futao “Gunner” Terashima, I Company, 3rd Battalion. Also recognized was the late Tetsuo Tateishi, A Company, 100th Battalion, who died last year before the French government could approve his medal.

Earlier in the month, Maman pinned the medal on another 442nd veteran, Masa-
yoshi Nakamura, at his home in Kaimukï.

To qualify for the Legion of Honor medal, American veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes or Northern France. France does not approve applications posthumously, so the application must be filed while the veteran is still living. The screening process can take as long as a year because the French government meets only twice a year to review applications.

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