Chronicler of the Story of the 100th Infantry Battalion
Ben Tamashiro made his living as an administrator at Schofield Barracks. But his real passion was writing about his wartime comrades in the 100th Infantry Battalion — something he did exceedingly well. Tamashiro chronicled their stories, bringing to life human experiences that transcended battle records and medal counts.
Born in Hanapepe, Kauai, Tamashiro was the son of immigrants from Okinawa, Japan. In December 1940, he volunteered for a one-year stint in the U.S. Army. Three days before he was scheduled to be discharged, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. Tamashiro re-enlisted and became a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion. In January 1944, four months after the 100th had arrived in Italy, he was wounded in the battle for Cassino and spent several months recuperating in a hospital.
After the war, Tamashiro was an active member of Club 100. He was a voracious reader of a wide range of subjects, and although he had never taken a formal writing course, Tamashiro regularly contributed articles to Club 100’s monthly newsletter and other publications. In 1985, he authored a series of articles for the Hawaii Herald titled “From Pearl Harbor to the Po,” profiling 100th veterans. Tamashiro’s wife, Gloria, often accompanied her husband on his interviews and said he tried to capture the essence of a man’s character in his articles.
The Tamashiros became a highly recognizable couple in Hawaii in the late 1980s. They portrayed a local couple, Harry and Myra, in 42 very popular Bank of Hawaii commercials.
In 1999, the Go for Broke monument containing the names of all the men who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team was dedicated in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles, California. The following inscription, written by Ben Tamashiro, was etched into the monument:
“Rising to the defense of their country, by the thousands they came – these young Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, the States, America’s concentration camps – to fight in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Looked upon with suspicion, set apart and deprived of their constitutional rights, they nevertheless remained steadfast and served with indomitable spirit and uncommon valor, for theirs was a fight to prove loyalty. This legacy will serve as a sobering reminder that never again shall any group be denied liberty and the rights of citizenship.”