Puka Puka Parades, July 1946, vol. 1 no. 4
Article about Earl Finch, one of the honorary members of Club 100
This is the fourth of a series of articles on the honorary members of the Club 100.
This issue of the Puka Puka Parade is respectfully dedicated to Mr. Earl M. Finch, Honorary Member of the Club 100 from Mississippi.
On March 5, 1946, a tall, stringy, slightly bald gentleman of thirty or thereabouts, came walking off the Pan American clipper which had just gotten in to Honolulu. Hundreds of AJA’s were there to greet him in traditional Hawaiian style with leis and music. Earl M. Finch, Hattiesburg businessman, who had befriended AJA’s in Camp Shelby had just come to Hawaii to visit with the boys he had come to love.
Earl Finch needs no introduction. Word of his genuine interest in the welfare of the AJA’s had reached far and wide throughout the U. S. and Hawaii, and to them this man had become a symbol of tolerance. His month’s visit in Hawaii gave not only the AJA’s, but the people of Hawaii as a whole, an opportunity to meet the man who had been dubbed “One Man USO” because of his sincere interest in entertaining men of Hawaii who were training in the States.
Upon his arrival, Yoshinao “Turtle” Omiya with Audrey, his seeing eye dog, greeted Earl, whose enthusiasm of the reunion with the man he had taken especial interest in, was a touching scene to even the coldest of hearts. “Turtle” was one of the many AJA’s who had become a fast friend of Earl Finch because of his extreme interests and sincere efforts to help men returning from combat wounded.
Even in Mississippi, where the “Jim Crow Law” insists on white supremacy, Earl Finch dared to defend the cause for the AJA’s. This action jeopardized his social as well as his economic position in his home town and outlying districts, but this man unerringly supported a principle he believed. All this came about because of a coincidence of his curiosity and sympathy for several AJA’s who were in Hattiesburg early in May, 1943. His kindness spread like wild fire, and before long he had all the men in camp at his front door.
From his first acquaintance of one of the AJA’s his interest grew until he was entertaining groups of hundreds to parties, dances and sightseeing trips. When the units, 100th and 442nd, embarked for overseas combat duty, he kept close contact with the men by writing to them. At the same time, he made new friends among the replacements who came to Shelby after the original unit left Shelby.
When the wounded began coming back for hospitalization to the States, Earl Finch, at his own expense, toured the different hospitals to visit and cheer the bed-ridden. He arranged for orchestras to accompany him, and entertained at different hospitals with Hawaiian programs. For those patients who were strong enough to go out on passes, Mr. Finch entertained them with nightclubs and theaters.
He is not an extremely wealthy man, as many people make him to be, however, money and time seem immaterial to him. He has travelled thousands of miles to see AJA’s who were scattered all over the United States.
He impresses an observer as one who came from Hawaii. Watching him conversing with men of the 100th and 442nd, he uses all the colloquials and pidgin that are so prevalent among the Hawaiian soldiers. The men themselves take to him as a friend and are not hesitant about cracking jokes at him or teasing him. He feels right at home with the boys, and admits that he does not enjoy the cramped sophisticated style of the South.
Theforegoing is just a surfacing of the true Earl Finch, and does not do him justice. However, it is the belief of the writer that Earl M. Finch is a pleasant picture in every member’s mind. The Club 100 is proud to have the Gentleman from Mississippi an Honorary Member, and the members at large send him all the MAHALO and ALOHA.