History Students Need Help Telling WWII Silent Hero Stories
Five student-educator teams from Hawai‘i public schools will participate this Memorial Day in the telling of untold stories of American service members buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific as part of Sacrifice for Freedom: World War II in the Pacific Student & Teacher Institute, a student-teacher cooperative learning program.
The program, coordinated through National History Day, is sponsored by the Pearl Harbor Historic Site Partners, including Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Pacific Historic Parks, USS Missouri Memorial Association and Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor.
The program will bring a total of six student-teacher teams from Hawai‘i public and private schools together with six teams from the U.S. mainland to study World War II in the Pacific. Each team selected one Silent Hero who died in the Pacific Theater of Operations and spent months researching readings, war records, draft cards, and family interviews. In July, when all teams assemble in Honolulu, students will learn more about their Silent Hero before delivering graveside eulogies at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Hear what the five HIDOE teams discovered during their research and how you can help with their projects:
Silent Hero: Private Yeishun Allen Soken
Research done by Neve Sherie Enriquez and Mrs. Uyeda, Waiakea High School
“In my research, I discovered that Private Yeishun Allen Soken lived a life largely influenced by Hawai‘i’s sugar plantation history,” said Enriquez. “He worked at the Wailea Milling Company in Hakalau, following the completion of his schooling at Hakalau Elementary and Intermediate in 1930. He later joined the U.S. Army. On Jan. 28, 1942, Soken was killed in action aboard the USAT Royal T. Frank between Maui and Hawai‘i Island. I would really like to have more of an insight into his private life, such as his hobbies, social life, or personality. I am would also love to talk to any of Soken’s surviving relatives, who can provide insights into his life.”
Contact Uyeda at [email protected] if you knew Private Yeishun Allen Soken or his family.
Silent Hero: Clarence P. Cambra
Research done by Tabita Maize and Mrs. Boehning, Mililani High School
“Clarence P. Cambra was born in Honolulu and was raised in Kaimuki on the island of O‘ahu,” said Maize. “He graduated from St. Louis in 1932. Following the United States’ entry into World War II, he was joined the U.S. Army, fighting with the 27th Infantry Division, 106th Infantry Regiment, Company A, Platoon 1. He later became a private first class. I would love to know more about his family life and am hoping to find living family members who knew Cambra. I am also curious to learn how he was assigned to the 27th Infantry Division, 106th Infantry Regiment, a unit based in New York that trained at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.”
Contact Boehning at [email protected] if you knew Private First Class Clarence P. Cambra or his family.
Silent Hero: Captain Henry G. Dillingham
Research done by Natalianna Ferrara and Mr. Domingo, Leilehua High School
“In my research, I discovered Captain Henry G. Dillingham attended Punahou School in Hawai’i,” said Ferrara. “After his high school graduation, Dillingham moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and studied at Harvard University. It was during his college years that he joined the U.S. war effort. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941. I would like to find out more about his family and life prior to his service, especially what he was like in high school. I am searching for any of Captain Dillingham’s surviving relatives or anyone who had contact with him during his teen years or during the war.”
Contact Domingo at [email protected] if you knew Captain Henry Gaylord Dillingham or his family.
Silent Hero: Pedro Rivera
Research done by Antoinette Pinera and Mrs. Keola, Waipahu High School
“From February 1942 to September 1944, Pedro Rivera served in the U.S. Army, fighting with the 298th Infantry,” said Pinera. “He died, as a non-combatant, in 1944 at Guadalcanal on the Pacific theatre. We would want more information about his life before he moved to Hawai‘i and what his job was with Hawaiian Constructors, which no longer exist. It was taken over by the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Also, any information about the Alvarado family or from people living in Waipahu during the 1940s would be extremely helpful.”
Contact Keola at [email protected] if you knew Private First Class Pedro Lamon Rivera or his family.
Silent Hero: Private Albert Neizman
Research done by Sarah Sakakihara and Miss Omura, Maui High School
“In my research, I discovered that Private Albert Neizman was the born in Kauai, but grew up in Lahaina, Maui,” said Sakakihara. “Neizman attended Kamehameha III School, worked as a fisherman. Later, he joined the U.S. Army in June 1943. Neizman was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism in the battle for the Gilbert Islands. I would like to know more about his youth and service in the U.S. Army.”
Contact Omura at [email protected] if you knew Private Albert Neizman or his family.
About National History Day
National History Day (NHD) is a Maryland-based nonprofit organization established in 1974. The organization engages more than 500,000 students nationally in conducting original research on different historical topics. In Hawaii, students compete first at the Hawai‘i History Day competition, and top entries advance to compete in the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD launched a Silent Heroes project to honor servicemen and women who never returned home by gathering their personal stories to create a public online database.