Susumu Kunishige was born in Laupahoehoe on the island of Hawaii in May 1919. When he was nine months old his parents moved to California where they felt there would be better opportunities for farming. Susumu was left behind and raised by his grandparents and aunties. His parents later had two daughters, but after his mother and one of his sisters died, the remaining sister was brought back to Hawaii and also raised by her grandparents.
When Susumu was 16 years old his grandmother passed away. Unable to finish high school because he had to help support his family, he became a paniolo (cowboy) at Parker Ranch.
Before Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan and war declared, Susumu moved to Honolulu and worked in construction, becoming a mason. He was inducted in the first draft of November 1941 and was assigned to the 298th Infantry at Schofield Barracks, later becoming one of the original members of the 100th Infantry Battalion.
After the war Club 100, which was formed while the soldiers were in Europe, bought a property in Honolulu with a building that was previously a Japanese language school. Susumu and several other veterans lived there in the former classrooms. A member of the AFL-CIO union, Susumu met his future wife Ruth at the union hall where she was working for the electrical union.
In a September 2005 Puka Puka Parade article, Ruth wrote about her husband’s experiences living in the first clubhouse and the many years he was involved with Club 100. After the Club sold the Japanese school property, he worked for the contractor who installed the tiles in the new clubhouse on Kamoku Street and volunteered with other veterans to build the wall around three sides of the property. It is still standing and in good shape.
He founded his own subcontracting tile company, running it for 28 years before he retired. During his retirement years, he served as treasurer of A Chapter and enjoyed many years of golfing with his 100th buddies.
Susumu Kunishige passed away in October 2012 and is buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, the final resting place of many of his 100th comrades.