Go For Broke
This Veterans Day weekend, Go For Broke, the movie telling the origin story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team premieres at the Hawaii International Film Festival. The premiere closes out the festival on Sunday, November 12.
The Champagne Campaign
Following the fierce fighting in the forests of northeast France, the 442nd were sent south to the Maritime Alps and the Riviera. The unit needed rest and reinforcements. It was less than half its strength with close to 2,000 men in hospitals. Eventually about 1200 replacements arrived from the United States and about 250 men were released from hospitals to rejoin their units. The objective was to guard a stretch of the French-Italian border and to prevent the Germans from breaking through into southern France.
From mid-November, 1944, to mid March, 1945, the 442nd engaged in what became known as “the Chanpagne Campaign.” While there was fighting, which resulted in injuries and loss of life, the fighting was nothing like the Vosges campaign. The men were able to visit the beaches, the casinos, the nightclubs and restaurants of the region. They were able to bask in the hospitality of the French citizens.
It was a welcome respite from the intense fighting they had experienced and the fighting to come.
Medal Of Honor
Hayashi, Joe J.
Born: August 14, 1920, Salinas, California
Died: April 22, 1945, Tendola, Italy
Unit: 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Hayashi was a mechanic before the war. He enlisted in the Army in May 1941. After war broke out, he volunteered for the 442nd. In April, 1945, the 442nd returned to Italy for combat. Near Tendola, Hayashi exposed himself to enemy fire to direct mortar fire on enemy positions. Two days later, he single-handedly silenced three enemy machine gun positions, but was killed in pursuit of enemy soldiers.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others. On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade, killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pisto fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective. Private Hayashi’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
After a hearty supper we waited until it was thoroughly dark and then started to the crater. The first glance in that direction revealed a scene of wild beauty. There was a heavy fog over the crater and it was splendidly illuminated by the glare from the fires below.”
—Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1866.
The Big Island of Hawai‘i is made up of three volcanoes. Mauna Loa is the world’s largest mountain. Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest.The third, Kilauea, has been in continuous eruption since October 1982, the month our son Michael was born.
Volcano House, on the rim of Kilauea Caldera, facing Haleuma’umu’a crater is the oldest hotel in Hawai’i, dating back to 1846. The hotel was already in its second reincarnation when Twain visited in 1866. The current structure was built in 1941 and remains the only public accommodation inside Hawai‘i Volcano National Park.
The hotel looks right into the glowing caldera. At night you can see the fountains of lava inside. You can wake up in the morning to a rainbow rising from the crater.
In Hawaiian mythology, Haleuma’umu’a is home to Pele, the goddess of fire and the shaper of all things. Read more about Pele here.
Between Hilo and Volcano National Park is the small town of Pahoa. It’s a small, rural community that has attracted a lot of people who just want to get away from urban life and live simply. In the 60’s and 70’s, we would have called them hippies. As a result, the town is full of quaint shops and restaurants. It was also the location of one of the KEEP (Kamehameha Early Education Program) dissemination schools in the 70’s. Pahoa Elementary housed grades K-3 of the KEEP program and my assignment at KEEP was to evaluate the dissemination programs. I made several trips to the school to collect data. It looks much the same as it did back then. Some of the subdivisions near Pahoa were buried by lava flows from Kilauea, but the town itself was spared.
Lehua and Ohia
The goddess Pele, she of the volcano, is the most powerful force on the the Big Island. Everywhere and everything has some connection to Pele mythology. One of the more charming myths is the legend of the Ohia tree and the Lehua flower. The Ohia grows on the lava fields. It is a pioneer, one of the first forms of vegetation to appear on the flow. It starts the process of breaking the lava into soil. Everywhere on the lava flows you can see an Ohia tree and its beautiful red flower, the Lehua.
The legend goes that Pele fell in love with a handsome warrior named Ohia, but Ohia had already pledged his love to Lehua. This so enraged Pele that she turned him into a twisted tree. Lehua came looking for him. When she saw the tree, she immediately guessed what happened. Distraught and in tears, she appealed to the other gods to reverse the spell. The other gods were moved by Lehua, but feared angering Pele. Instead they changed Lehua into a flower on the tree so the two would be joined forever. Some people believe that plucking the Lehua flower will bring rain on that day, presumably Lehua’s tears.