PORTLAND — A Congressional Gold Medal tribute luncheon for veterans of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service was held Feb. 26 at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland with more than 450 people in attendance.
The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the three Nisei units of World War II last November in Washington, D.C., and regional celebrations are being held across the country for those who were unable to attend.
The Portland event was organized by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Oregon Nisei Veterans Inc., with Lynn Fuchigami Longfellow chairing the committee. Major sponsors included Portland JACL, Delta Airlines, and the Samuel T. and Mary K. Naito Foundation.
Kyle Iboshi of KGW NewsChannel 8 served as emcee. The Adjutant General’s Select Honor Guard presented the colors, Nola Bogle sang the national anthem, and Rev. Robin Yim gave the invocation. A recorded greeting from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was shown.
Mari Watanabe, executive director of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, gave a speech entitled “Journey to the Congressional Gold Medal.”
The keynote speaker was Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Peterson, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command (retired). Peterson, who is of Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian ancestry, also participated in the Washington, D.C. ceremonies.
Setsy Larouche, commander of Oregon Nisei Veterans, saluted the World War II vets, an a tribute video was introduced by Wesley Campbell, grandson of MIS veteran Bill Naito.
Bronze replicas of the CGM were presented to 20 veterans and family members of deceased vets by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Gen. Peterson, assisted by Cpl. Craig Leedham, grandson of 442nd veteran Kay Akiyama, and Chloe Longfellow, granddaughter of MIS veteran Walter Fuchigami.
The 234th Army Band, Oregon National Guard, closed the program by playing the 442nd song, and Bogle sang “America the Beautiful.”
Ron Iwasaki donated seedlings for each family to take home and plant in honor of the veterans.