Sunday October 1, 2023

JAVA e-Advocate 10/1/2023

Remembering KIA Hawaiian Soldiers

As generations shift and the content of attics are sorted, JAVA is occasionally contacted by heirs on what to do with historical and prized possessions. Richard Murphy found himself in exactly that predicament and reached out to JAVA last fall. Murphy, a World War II historian, sent the following inquiry:

“I was recently going through some old papers that belonged to my great-grandfather who served in WWII.

I came across several official US Army Signal Corps photos in which my great-grandfather is presenting awards to the surviving parents of members of the 442nd who were KIA.

All of these personal and at-home award presentations occurred in Hawai’i.

Having a bit of experience in these kinds of mementos and their historical significance, I know that these photos would have a better home within the JAVA community, even if only on the internet.

Please let me know if you are interested or point me toward whoever would like more information.”

JAVA was absolutely interested!

In the spring of this year, EC member CAPT (Dr) Cynthia Macri, MC, USN(Ret), and Neet Ford met with Murphy to see the photos and learn more about their origins. Murphy shared that his great-grandfather, Corwin H. Olds, served as the Chaplain in Hawai’i at the end of WWII with Headquarters United States Army Forces Middle Pacific. This service was part of a distinguished military career that started in Canada’s Imperial Royal Flying Corps (pilot, WWI) and ended with the rank of Brigadier General (Chaplain) in the California National Guard. During WWII, he was awarded a Bronze Star and was an expert in jungle warfare. Between the wars, Corwin completed seminary school in Bangor, ME, and became an Army Chaplain when he entered U.S. Army service in early 1941. He was born in Ohio in 1895 and passed away in
California in 1990.

Murphy went on to explain the poignant photos, eleven total, captured the presentation of posthumous medals to families as well as memorial services. Each of the photos has the official full caption including names of the people in them and their relationship to the soldier killed in action. He also had a script of a eulogy that his great-grandfather gave for Sgt. Wilson Eiga Higa. Mentioned in the eulogy were: Sgt. Masayoshi Miyagi, Cpl. Kiyozo Enomoto, and PFC Herushi Kondo. Lastly, a handwritten note in Japanese (which Cynthia Macri
had translated and determined it was likely either notes someone took for the eulogy or notes someone sent to the Chaplain so he could make his remarks) was discovered among his great-grandfather’s papers.

Viewing the images, you can’t help but be moved by the palpable sense of loss and pain the Gold Star families are experiencing. Murphy was certain that Chaplain Olds felt their grief, “Knowing my great-grandfather, which I did, each of these ceremonies was important to him and touched him deeply.”

Richard Murphy, the Olds family, and JAVA would like to find surviving relatives of the men pictured in these photos. It is Richard’s main objective that these photos be sent home to the families of those who so willingly went for broke. Please let us know if you are next of kin by contacting javapotomac@gmail.com.

The following photos and captions were donated to JAVA on March 25th, 2023, in Washington, DC.