LTC Walter M. Ozawa | July 27, 1983
In July, 1983 then-LTC Walter Ozawa relinquished command of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, U.S. Army Reserve, completing his assignment to the battalion which began in February of 1970. He joined the unit as a platoon commander, and progressively rose through the officer ranks as company commander, assistant S-3 for operations, S-1 personnel, S-4 logistics, S-3 plans and operations, and Executive Officer before assuming command of the battalion in 1980. Annual Training 1983 culminated with the battalion's Oahu units were joined by its subordinate units from Hawaii island, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan, and attached units from New Zealand and Australia. At the end of Annual Training, the battalion conducted a change of command ceremony at Schofield Barracks, where LTC Ozawa turned over command to the late LTC Gilbert Saiki.
Fellow soldiers, this morning's ceremony marks not an end, but a new beginning for the 100th Battalion. During the much too short years of my assignment as your commander, we have expanded and developed as no other unit in the Army Reserve. The battalion is at virtually full strength and training readiness and morale never higher. With the entire battalion scheduled to be present at Annual Training 1984, we are surely at the doorway to greatness. As I leave the battalion for my next assignment, I'd like to indulge in sharing a few thoughts with you.
Some 40 years ago, a young minister, his wife and four children were suddenly swept into World War II. A Japanese immigrant with American children, he was taken from a quiet plantation camp above the Hanapepe Valley on Kauai, brought to Honolulu, and then on to the Mainland. This minister and his family were placed in internment camps in Arkansas, then California. At the Tule Lake facility along the Oregon-California border, a son was born. After the war, they were returned to Kauai to begin again their life interrupted. The fourth son, born in California, grew up in a happy island environment. From time to time, he puzzled over the fact that the revered family album held no pictures of his infancy. He later learned why. That cameras were confiscated during the war, and his photo album started only after his family's return to Hawaii. He was curious, of course, about his life's beginning, and over the years, in piecemeal fashion, learned about his childhood past. He learned about fathers and sons, brothers and uncles of Japanese ancestry, Americans all, who volunteered by the hundreds, nay, thousands from these internment camps, to form a special unit made up of others like themselves, carving out a special place in military and American history.
I am the son of that Japanese minister, without an infant's picture, or a photographic past. This unit, and my tenure as its commander, has filled that void. I now feel whole, complete, and now you know why this has been an especially fulfilling experience for me.
Today, this unit thrives and is strengthen by its diversity, drawing from young men and women from throughout the Pacific. The single, binding ingredient remaining from the homogeneity of World War II, however, remains.
Pride of country. A commitment to the American way of life, regardless of race, color or creed. Out unit patch aptly symbolizes this with the torch of Liberty. As maudlin as it may sound, the truth of the matter is we show our Americanism through service with the military, with the 100th Battalion. I have reveled in our accomplishments and enjoin you to revel with me.
To those of you who grew with me... to those of you who grew for me... and to those of you who helped me to grow over the past 14 years... Thank you. To LTC Saiki, I hand over a special trust, between special men and a special unit. Protect that trust, nurture it, nourish it, strengthen it.
To all you leaders, every one, always be eager to show off your men and their accomplishments, ensuring always excellence of performance.
Today's change of command ceremony is for you, the soldier. I wanted to share this moment with all of you, the entire battalion. This moment symbolically links commander with his command, and identifies each and every one of you with his most special unit, the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry.
I shall miss you all.
Go For Broke.