By CHRIS BRUSATTE, Go For Broke National Education Center
Early last Saturday, we were saddened to hear about the passing of our good friend Masao “Mas” Takahashi, member of the 100th Infantry Battalion, C Company.
To say that Mas was a hero is to put it mildly. He was the exemplar of the type of man that I hope to be. He fought for our country even when America had betrayed him and his family. He endured intense shelling during the battle to break the Gothic Line. He returned to America and became the husband and father that wives and children thank God for. His smile lit up any room.
For the past year and a half, he was the backbone of our organization – Go For Broke National Education Center. As many of our other veterans became sick or less active, it was Mas who showed up at every event. When we talked to school groups, it was Mas who did the speaking. When we held events for businesses, it was Mas who came along.
Heck, even when we had our volunteer mailings, it was Mas – even sick with cancer – who showed up to seal labels. And most memorably, it was Mas who rode proudly aboard the Go For Broke float in this January’s Rose Parade along with four of his fellow World War II veterans. As millions watched around the world – including my family in Illinois and in Scotland – Mas smiled that smile of his while waving in the January cold.
We really don’t know how to thank you, Mas – and it hasn’t really sunk in yet that you’ve passed on. We expect you back next Monday at our weekly meeting. We expect your laugh, your eyes shining as you tell us another enthralling tale about your youthful escapades. Your seat remains empty, waiting for you.
But deep down we know that you’ve now taken your seat at a much higher table. Gathered anew around your old 100th buddies, you’re seated above, looking down on us as we share your legacy onwards. Smiling that smile of yours, reminding us to never stop teaching others about the courage, strength, kindness, and humanity of your Nisei generation.
Thank you, Mas, for teaching us all about the important history of the 100th. Thank you, Mas, for being such an inspiration. And – mostly – thank you, Mas, for always being there and for always being such a good friend.
Editor’s note: Masao “Mas” Takahashi died on July 25 at his home in Torrance at the age of 90. Born in Modesto, he was interned at Manzanar during World War II and was drafted into the 100th Infantry Battalion. He received a Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman badge for his service in Europe. He worked as a mechanic and owned gas stations and truck stops around California. He was active in the redress movement as well as GFBNEC’s efforts to preserve Nisei soldiers’ stories. Survivors include his wife Elma, son, Scott, daughters Donna, Gail and Teresa, and two grandchildren. A celebration of life is planned for Sunday, Aug. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Gardena Buddhist Church, 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena.