The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Veteran Nisei soldier keeps ‘legacy’ alive during fundraising event

Yoshio Nakamura, 98, poses for a photo with his Whittier neighbor who drove him to El Camino College on Saturday, Sept. 9., to attend a presentation of “Defining Courage.” The mixed media immersive show honors the sacrifice of the Nisei soldier who fought in World War II. Nakamura is a former Nisei soldier. (Nellie Eloizard | The Union)

At 98 and in a wheelchair, Yoshio Nakamura could no longer drive alone, so he asked his neighbor to drive him to El Camino College all the way from Whittier on Saturday, Sept. 9.

They made the 20-mile drive because there was no way Nakamura was going to miss “Defining Courage,” an immersive experience that tells the story of the Nisei soldier at the Marsee Auditorium.

Nakamura, after all, is a Nisei soldier himself, one of the few who are left standing.

“Being a spokesperson and being the very few around is how I do my part in keeping the legacy of true American heroes alive,” Nakamura said.

Nisei Soldiers are American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who served in the segregated military units during World War II.

Their story is being told in a unique presentation that combined film, live music and choir, and documentary-style eyewitness interviews.

The show was conceived through the efforts of Emmy award winner and ABC7 news anchor David Ono, Emmy award winner Jeff Maclntyre and music director Chris Wade.

Raise Choir provided the live music as the audience saw footage of Japan, Germany, France, and Italy during the war.

For this leg of the tour, which also doubled as a Maui relief event, the Aloha dancers joined Raise Choir on stage for a special segment.

The Marsee Auditorium box office was able to sell over 1,600 tickets, raising $61,000.

One hundred percent of the proceeds would go to the Hawaii Community Foundation to help in their Maui fund relief, according to Ono.

Ono told the audience that by staying united, they can continue to support Hawaii. This is also how they can keep the legacy of the Nisei soldiers strong. “Keep up the fight and we will continue to win,” Ono said.

It will be remembered that Maui was devastated by wildfires that began August 8.

Tia Carrere was also at the auditorium to support the fundraiser. Born in Honolulu, Carrere said the Nisei soldiers were “heroes who can inspire us.”

Most of the soldiers who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team were from Hawaii.

Today, Nakamura calls himself an educator whose mission is to remind everyone of the bravery of the Nisei soldiers.

While he enjoys being an educator, he had this to say about what he went through during the war: “Service and war, they were not fun.”


Editor’s Note: Added information about the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team for accuracy on Sept 15, at 1:38 p.m.

More to Discover