The AJA Veterans Council has a memorial service annually on the last Sunday of September to commemorate the day World War II soldiers lost their first comrade from Hawaii, Sgt. Shigeo “Joe” Takata, in a battle near Montemarano, Italy, on Sept. 29, 1943.
This year, the memorial service will be fall on the same day 76 years later, Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Hawaii County Veterans Cemetery No. 1. Service starts at 10 a.m. The public is invited.
The keynote speaker will be 2019 Keaau High School graduate Shylynn Y. Kawamoto, the recipient of the 2019 Hawaii Island AJA Veterans Legacy Association scholarship.
She is the daughter of Kevin and Jennifer Nakano.
Her great-grandfather was Heiso Matsuda, a member of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, which was the focus of her scholarship essay.
Kawamoto is attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo with plans to major in nursing.
The service includes participation by the Hilo High School Jr. ROTC, Boy Scout Troop 82 and the Hawaii County Band.
This year, a display will include vintage photos of the young soldiers by company taken during basic training.
The annual memorial service tradition was initiated by the World War II veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442 Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Presently, the Sons and Daughters of AJA Veterans organization under the guidance of the AJA Veterans Council continue the memorial services.