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Bob Nakamura (second from left) and Don Maekawa (second from right) are pictured with members of the 56th Multi-Functional Medical Battalion during their presentation at the French Theater on Fort Lewis. Photo courtesy of Bob Nakamura

By P.C. Staff

Don Maekawa from the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee and BobNakamura from the Olympia Chapter of the JACL and member of the NVC in Seattle and commander of the Lacey-Tumwater VFW Post 11402 in Lacey, Wash., presented a discussion on the impact that Asian/Pacific Islander soldiers and citizens have had on the United States to the 56th Multi-Functional Medical Battalion in Fort Lewis, Wash., on May 19 as part of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The presentation, which took place at the French Theater on Fort Lewis, the oldest theater on post dating back to the early 1930s, consisted of the history of the Japanese and Japanese Americans from the late 1890s to the 1940s, leading up to the internment camps and the formation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry and the Military Intelligence Service.

Maekawa recalled his personal memories of going through basic training at North Fort Lewis in 1956. He also gave a presentation on the “Stories of the 442nd RCT.” His recollection made a lasting impact on the
soldiers of the 56th MMB.

“It is hard enough leaving your family in a stable location, but to leave your family for war while they lived in those locations — it’s hard to imagine,” said SPC Villanueva, S-3 office (Operations) of the 56th MMB.

The presentation also served as an excellent opportunity for the 56th MMB to honor and remember the sacrifices these men and women made for this nation. Attendees commented that Maekawa and Nakamura articulated greatly the impact and importance of Asian Pacific Islander Soldiers during World War II and beyond.