The Big Island “Boys” – “Once So Young …”
Hawaii Herald, June 19, 1992
By: Margaret Yamate
The glass-framed photograph hangs slightly crooked on the wall of the dimly lit dining room at Hilo’s Cafe 100. During a quiet moment, restaurant owner Evelyn Miyashiro gazes at the picture and murmurs to no one in particular, “They were so young….” She is staring at her husband, one of the 23 “boys” in the photo taken 50 years ago.
Richard S. Miyashiro died in 1982, 42 years after he became a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion. Upon his return from Europe, he started Cafe 100-leaving a legacy of devotion and attachment to the men with whom he had served in wartime. The restaurant’s name attracts veterans of World War II from throughout the Islands and the Mainland. The Hawaii state House of Representatives paid tribute to Miyashiro’s hospitality and praised his popular beef stew and copyrighted Loco Moco (hamburger patty with rice, gravy and fried egg) with HR 341.
The boys in the 100th’s Hawaii Chapter held their monthly meetings at Cafe 100 for many years until the AJA Veterans Hall was built.
Today, Hilo’s Club 100 members are all retired; the average age of the group is 74. Most of them are grandpas; a few are even great-grandpas.
Whenever the men get together for their meetings these days, much of the talk is about their “aches and pains” and what their wives will allow them to eat-or not eat. Comparing healthy diets has all but replaced their more rowdy talk of earlier years. Some have even curtailed their favorite pastime-“bending the elbow”—due to concerns over “DUI (driving under the influence)” incidents.
The Hawaii Chapter was formed in 1946. Kazuma Hisanaga, now retired from Hilo High School where he taught and served as athletic director, was the chapter’s first president. Hisanaga spends most of his time these days on the golf course, enjoying Hilo’s great outdoors.
Through the years, the club presidency has been rotated among the members, some serving as many as three terms. Attendance at monthly meetings has dwindled as the years passed. These days, only about 30 are active in the club. Chapter trustee James Maeda explained the bond between them: “Contact with fellow men helps to keep our sanity.” That’s the reason Club 100’s Hawaii Island Chapter will continue until the last man is gone.
The present officers of the Hawaii Chapter are: Motoyoshi Tanaka, president; Tsugio Kaisen, vice president; Eugene Eguchi, secretary; and Roger Kawasaki, treasurer.
Tanaka is serving his third term as president. He squeezes in time to perform his official duties while working on his “hobby”-making cement pots in his workshop to sell commercially. Of his past, he says: “If I knew I was coming back (from the war), I would choose to go through the same experiences. But in those days …” Suddenly that faraway look appears in his eyes, like it appears in the eyes of many who returned from the war. He is remembering too much.
In general, the men don’t talk much about the past, preferring to save their reflections for times they spend with their buddies, like their 50th anniversary reunion to be held in Honolulu later this month. Their assignments to various companies within the battalion created special bonds between the men, now scattered throughout the state. On the Big Island they are veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, but in Honolulu, they will be the “boys” of companies A, B, C, D, E, F and Headquarters.
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