HONOLULU — “Journey of Heroes: The Story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team,” an internationally acclaimed and historically accurate graphic novel by Stacey Hayashi, has reopened its call for ad space going into its third printing.
Originally self-published in 2012 as a project endorsed by the 442nd RCT Foundation, its first printing of 10,000 became 12,000, and 5,000 books were donated to public schools and libraries in Hawaii. The remaining books from the first printing were sold to recoup production costs, and quickly sold out in a few months.
A second printing of 15,000, which became 18,000, was done in late 2013 and another “Adopt a School” project with the 442nd Foundation made possible the distribution of over 6,500 additional books going to schools across the nation and world.
“Journey of Heroes” made its way to San Diego Comic Con in 2013. Numerous book-signings have been held at Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, U.S. Army Museum, Japanese American National Museum, Bruyeres City Hall in France and other venues with Hayashi and veterans of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service participating.
Copies have been presented to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by 100th Battalion veteran Tokuji Yoshihashi of Pasadena and MIS veteran Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani of Hawaii on separate occasions.
Copies have also been presented to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, a veteran whose letter appears in the book; the late Stan Lee of Marvel Comics; former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War combat veteran; and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry B. Harris, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, the highest-ranking Asian American in the history of the Navy.
Hayashi wrote the screenplay for the 2018 feature film “Go For Broke: An Origin Story,” which follows a group of University of Hawaii ROTC students who fight discrimination after the Pearl Harbor attack by forming the Varsity Victory Volunteers, which led to the establishment of the 100th/442nd.
“The first 10 pages of ‘Journey of Heroes’ is basically the story of ‘Go For Broke: An Origin Story,’ the DVD of which will finally be available soon,” said Hayashi.
Proceeds from the DVD will be used to finance the next movie, “Go For Broke: And Then There Were Eight,” the story of the liberation of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, and the rescue of the Lost Battalion. Filming on location in France may begin in October 2022, depending on the COVID situation.
The book is 6″ x 9″ and camera-ready art can be emailed to [email protected] by Feb. 15; payment can be made via Paypal ([email protected]) or check — email [email protected] for payment address. Full page is $2,500 and includes 100 copies of the book; half-page is $1,500 and includes 25 copies.
“In Honor/Memory of” ads will also be accepted, if families would like to include their family member in the section.
“My great uncle Ko Fukuda was original 100th Battalion, so he was in the Army on Dec. 7, 1941 already with the 298th Infantry, defending Hawaii from the attacking planes,” Hayashi said.”Growing up, we didn’t see him too much, and he passed away when I was still in high school, around the same time as Sparky Matsunaga, who was our U.S. senator and also was original 100th.
“So I didn’t really know too much about him until I became good friends with Goro Sumida because I started working on the movie. Goro was very close to my Uncle Ko — so close, in fact, that Goro was the only friend he mentioned when giving an oral history about his time in the service. So becoming such close friends with Goro kinda gave me back my uncle, in many ways.
“The stories of these vets are important for the Japanese community as a whole — and more important now, because so many are gone and are unable to share their stories anymore, as they shared them with me and anyone else fortunate enough to have known them.
“Stories are the foundation of our culture and cultural identity, and Japanese Americans should know what their forebears in the Greatest Generation achieved. the fact that they are the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and time in combat is remarkable, not only because they were the best, but because they did so utilizing the cultural values they were denigrated and suspected for by their own country and neighbors.
“To say ‘we should be proud’ doesn’t even begin to cover the myriad positive effects and immeasurable impact they’ve had on the world, and we all benefit from their sacrifice and courage — all of us, not just the Japanese Americans, or Asian Americans, or even Americans. They’ve literally impacted all of us, all over the globe. If not the 100th/442nd, the MIS in the Pacific, China-India-Burma Theater, etc.
“We all owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. It is important to keep telling their stories, to keep them alive and to remember who we are and who we want to be.”