17 FALLEN WARRIORS
AFGHANISTAN WAR (2001-PRESENT)
1LT JONATHAN BROSTROM
2008, Mike Normand, a Damien teacher, said some students are memorable because they need a lot of help. But Normand said Jonathan Brostrom stood out for far different reasons. He is a solid, hard-working student who had good leadership qualities. “He worked his tail off… He was a real honest kid,” Normand said. He further described Brostrom as an outgoing person who had a team-player mentality. “In his life he chose to defend the U.S. He did what he believed was right for his country. That’s the kind of kid he was, do what is right and necessary. He chose to do the right thing,” he added “There’s that few who are just outstanding people when you get them.
IRAQ WAR (2003-2011)
1LT NAINOA K. HOE
2005, "a husband, son and brother loyal and selfless as a friend and soldier and unmatched as a leader. He owned the room when he walked in. Always steady as a rock he was the most dependable person I knew. He never did anything halfway. Nainoa was a professional soldier, an Infantry Platoon Leader, doing his job to the best of his abilities. Even in the fog of war Nainoa never lost his quick wit and sharp sense of humor. Most importantly Nainoa always kept his priorities in order. He was a wonderful husband, son and brother. His love for his Emily, family and Hawaiʻi always came first. That’s what struck me about Nainoa no matter what..."
1LT JEREMY WOLFE
2003, "Jeremy was always competitive by nature. The thing about him though was he wasn’t an A-hole if he lost…hmmm…what’s a better word!?! He wasn’t a sore loser in other words. He didn’t really always compete to necessarily prove he was the best, but to challenge others to become better… better than they thought they could be, and sometimes it was in turn push him to beyond limits he thought he had already reached. For example, he had the record of the most sit-ups at one point in time, till CDT Leonani Bowman decided one day she was going to beat him. She didn’t tell him she was working on it, she just did it!"
VIETNAM WAR (1955-1975)
LTC KARL LANGE
1969, on 09 Dec 1969 a UH-1H (tail number 68-16220) of A Company, 123rd Aviation Battalion, was flying a routine shuttle mission for the 23rd Division (AMERICAL) Support Command. The aircraft departed the Americal Division headquarters helipad about 0730 and proceeded to Minh Long as the copilot climbed to pass over a saddle at grid coordinates BS507468 they entered clouds. The pilot attempted an emergency climb but wasn’t able to crest the hill. The aircraft hit skids-first and broke up, with the cabin section traveling some 140 feet before coming to a halt and burning. The pilot survived with injuries, but the other six men were killed in the crash.
1LT BRIAN W. KONG
1971, 1LT Kong is a true American hero. He was a conscientious student and outstanding ROTC cadet who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Although nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, I hope you will take comfort in knowing that he will never be forgotten. Generations of ROTC cadets have learned and will continue to learn about his honor, bravery, and patriotism. Message from Hawaiʻi Senator Daniel K. Inouye, April 26, 2001, in remembrance of 1LT Brian Kong. "Brian was a ‘first name guy’, he always wanted to know the person... it did not matter where they came from, but always liked to know people."
2LT FRANK RODRIGUEZ
1968, "In hopes that this reaches family, friends and those that served with Lt Rodriguez. I know he was a well respected leader of his platoon and a fine soldier who died in an assault on an enemy force in Northern Vietnam. We lost two others in that assault and all are missed. To me, the picture reflects the seriousness of our circumstances, even at the earliest part of our involvement. We were young, we were tired, and we were responsible. Now we will miss those that didn’t come home." "he was the All-American boy who was respected by all who knew him. He was an unselfish leader who was dedicated to the principles of Duty, Honor, Country. Frank was one of the best and brightest."
2LT THOMAS BLEVINS
1966, "Tom and I were best friends in High School. We both went to New Rochelle High School in New York. Our fathers were both stationed at a little army base called Fort Slocum. Tom and I took life saving together and were life guards at the two base beaches. In our spare time we spent hours snorkel diving in the cold Long Island sound. Tom was a friend to everyone he met. I cherish the time that I spent with Tom and his family. I will always be grateful for his friendship and for his sacrifice to his country. You will always be in my thoughts Tom." "I hope you know how much we appreciate the sacrifice that you made in behalf of the USA and how proud I am to have known you."
CPT KENNETH GOOD
1963, "My father, Kenneth Newlon Good, was born on November 30, 1930 in Hollywood, California. In 1948, my father received his appointment to West Point by Senator Richard M. Nixon. Dad found himself quite discouraged upon first entering West Point, but his parents urged him to persevere through that first year. He proudly graduated with the class of 1952. In his last year at the Academy Dad met my mom, Barbara May Waterhouse, from Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi. In 1958, dad accepted an assignment as Assistant Professor of Military Science in the senior ROTC group at the University of Hawaiʻi, Warrior Battalion."
WORLD WAR II (1939-1945)
SSG GROVER NAGAJI
SGT HOWARD URABE
SGT JENHATSU CHINEN
1944, Grover Nagaji was born on July 10, 1920. After serving with the Varsity Victory Volunteers where he distinguished himself as a “darn good” carpenter, Nagaji entered military service on March 25, 1943. In June 1944, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was just docking in Italy and entering the European theatre. The famed 100th Infantry Battalion, for its extraordinary battle achievements, was attached as a battalion to the 442nd. After completing basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Nagaji was assigned to the 442nd, as a replacement in the 100th Battalion. On 25JUN, the 442nd entered its first battle at Suvereto in central Italy. It was during this action that SSG Nagaji was killed in action as his squad attacked a German tank, and he was mortally wounded by the tank’s explosion. For their efforts that day, the 100th Infantry Battalion was awarded its first Presidential Unit Citation for glory.
1944, SGT Howard Urabe was born on March 16, 1923 in Kapaʻa, Kauaʻi. Urabe enlisted on March 24, 1943, and after completing basic training at Camp Shelby, was assigned to the 442nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company G. On July 4, 1944, a week after the battle at Suvereto that had taken the life of SSG Nagaji, the 442nd engaged the enemy in a fierce battle that became known as “Hill 140.” According to his citation: “… SGT Urabe crawled 25 yards through sparse undergrowth to reach a position in front of an enemy machine gun. Timing his movements, SGT Urabe suddenly stood up and fired a rifle grenade into the nest, killing the machine gunner and destroying the gun. SGT Urabe fired another grenade and knocked out the second gun …” Urabe was killed by a sniper as he was preparing for another assault. His bravery on Hill 140 earned him the honorable Silver Star, posthumously.
1944, Jenhatsu Chinen was born on February 22, 1922 in Helemano. After serving with the Varsity Victory Volunteers, Chinen entered military service in March 1943 and was assigned to the 442nd Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company E. The battle for Hill 140 continued, as both sides engaged in a long and furious battle to control access to the seaport of Leghorn, the third largest port in Italy. The mission of SGT Chinen and Company E of the 2nd Battalion was to reach the villages of Casellina and Rosignano. The attack on July 5th resulted in heavy casualties, including SGT Chinen. Eyewitness accounts state that he most likely was felled by artillery fire. SGT Chinen enjoyed music and played the guitar for his buddies during rest periods. He carried that guitar with him from UH to Schofield Barracks, to Camp Shelby and then overseas to Italy. He’s probably strumming some chords today.
PVT AKIO NISHIKAWA
1944, PVT Akio Nishikawa was born on October 15, 1922 in Paia, Maui. PVT Nishikawa entered military service on March 21, 1943, and after completing basic training was assigned as a medic to Company E of the 2nd Battalion of the 442nd. On July 4th, during the battle for Hill 140, PVT Nishikawa was cited for heroic achievements in going to the aid of the wounded despite artillery fire. For his actions he was awarded a Bronze Star. Four days later, on July 8th, the 442nd accomplished its mission of taking the heavily fortified Hill 140. It was during this march that PVT Akio Nishikawa earned a Silver Star.
PFC HIROICHI TOMITA
1944, PFC Hiroichi Tomita was born on May 2, 1923. Tomichi entered military service on March 24, 1943. After training at Camp Shelby, Tomita was assigned to Company F of the 2nd Battalion of the 442. On July 12, 1944, the 2nd Battalion was moving forward and Company F was experiencing enemy fire. PFC Tomita's task was to relay messages between the front and the rear command post. PFC Tomita and other Company F riflemen sought shelter in a pink two-story farmhouse that had been a landmark during the battle at Hill 140. Two Company F riflemen, SGT Iguchi and PFC Hiroichi Tomita, were instantly killed.
1LT Saburo Maehara
1LT Saburo Maehara graduated from the University of Hawaii ROTC Program and was commissioned into the United States Army in 1936. From there, 1LT Maehara served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team from 1943-1945. 1LT Saburo Maehara was killed in action near Ripa, Italy during the Po Valley Campaign on April 5th, 1945.
SGT DANIEL BETSUI
SGT ROBERT MURATA
MAJ JOHN JOHNSON
1944, Daniel Betsui was born on September 5, 1922 in Hanapepe, Kauaʻi. Betsui was inducted into the Army of March 11, 1943, and after training at Camp Shelby, was assigned to the 232nd Combat Engineer Company of the 442nd Regiment. On 02AUG, during a training session, an accident of horrible proportions occurred. The soldiers from the 109th Engineering Battalion, 34th Division, assisted by SGT Betsui and other 232nd engineers, were demonstrating characteristics of German mines to the 3rd Battalion of the 442nd. The demonstration ended and the mines were stored back on a truck. Suddenly a tremendous explosion rocked the truck as nearly a ton of explosives ignited. No one is sure what caused the explosion – one theory is that the detonators were loaded with the mines and one of the igniting devices of the detonators had not been un-cocked. Eleven men, including SGT Betsui, were killed instantly from the blast.
1944, Robert Shigeru Murata was born on October 8, 1922 in Honolulu. Murata was inducted into service on March 15, 1943. On the night of October 26th, less than 3 days off the line, the 442nd was called up to rescue a battalion of the 36th Texas Regiment that had been surrounded by German units – a battle that has become known as “The Rescue of the Lost Battalion.” We cannot begin to capture in these few moments the courage and sacrifice of the 442nd soldiers as they fought inch by inch up steep terrain to reach the Texas Battalion. In all, 800 were wounded or killed to rescue the 211 Texans. K Company had started with 186 infantrymen; only 17 walked out. I Company starting with 185 men; only 8 walked out. Amidst all of the courage and carnage, SGT Robert Murata lost his life in hand-to-hand combat. The Rescue of the Lost Battalion is designated by the US Army as one of the Top 10 battles.
1944, Major John “Jack” Alexander Johnson Jr. was born June 9, 1913. Jack joined the Hawaiʻi National Guard in 1939 and was promoted to First Lieutenant in the 299th Infantry. When not working on the plantation, he was training his men. He would join the Army when called up. Major Jack A. Johnson died in the battle for Monte Cassino on January 25, 1944. Johnson, who had replaced the injured Major James Lovell as the 100th Infantry Battalion’s executive officer in early January, was accompanying the unit’s new commanding officer, Major George Dewey, on a reconnaissance mission when both men were wounded in a German minefield. Because they lay in a field exposed to enemy fire, battalion headquarters sent two litter bearers and their single stretcher for the wounded officers. The soldiers had been ordered to “save Jack first,” but in confusion of battle, they returned with Major Dewey, who was near death.