Special “Lost Battalion” Film Screening for War Veterans
Pictured: World War II veterans Robert Kishinami, Henry Ishida and Takeo Ikeda
It was a full house, as sons, daughters and other family members and friends came out in force with some of Hawai‘i’s World War II veterans of Japanese ancestry for a special screening of a documentary film, Rescuing the Lost Battalion: The Story Behind the Heroes. The film was made by the international arm of Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.
It’s a painful war story that many people in Hawai‘i know. Many local boys of Japanese ancestry suffered grievously to save Texas soldiers who were pinned down by German gunfire in steep, dense woods in France. The Japanese Americans had volunteered for their country’s wartime infantry, patriotic to a government that distrusted them.
This epic battle is only now starting to become known throughout Japan. The film director, 30-something Yoichiro Sasagawa, and several NHK World-Japan executives came to Honolulu last month and gave local veterans an opportunity to view this English-language version of the film in person before it airs on PBS Hawai‘i next month.
Left image: Decorated war veteran Yasunori Deguchi told me he’s always mindful of the fallen soldiers. Center image: Film director Yoichiro Sasagawa (right) greets Laura Miho (seated), widow of veteran/lawmaker “Kats” Miho. Right image: Taeko Ishikawa lost her husband George, her brother Kazuo and her cousin Tsugio in WWII.
Nine World War II vets in their 90s, including former Gov. George Ariyoshi, attended, as did four widows of veterans. They were among more than 400 attendees. Widow Taeko Ishikawa still makes every effort to represent her husband George, who passed away in 1970.
One of the attending vets, Takeo “Ike” Ikeda, opened up about his experiences in the battle for the Lost Battalion for the first time in his life, in an emotional interview that’s part of the film.
This hour-long documentary will air on PBS Hawai‘i at 8:00 pm on Saturday, August 4.
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