We are pleased to announce a public program, entitled KAMIKAZE OF KAILUA, will be held in the Kailua Public Library on
December 3, beginning at 6:30.
When warfare broke out unexpectedly in 1941, who could have known what lay behind the battle lines of that conflict in faraway
Okinawa? Known only to a very few in Kailua, where the very first shots were fired, was that one of its own was “missing”. Caught
behind the enemy line, so to speak, was teenager Minoru Teruya, being trained reluctantly to become a Kamikaze pilot. His story is
“Mino”, as he was affectionately known during his long life in Kailua, was born to farming parents in the Kalaheo area in 1925.
Though short of stature, his strong, athletic body was recognized by his family as an important asset to his immigrant parents. So,
when his grandparents in Okinawa needed help on their farm, dutifully the family decision was to send him back temporarily to be
useful in whatever ways a teenage youth could be. Who could know then what was soon to happen, and for that family the
consequences that would develop?
As a high school student in Okinawa, Mino was recognized for his intellectual and physical abilities, and was drafted into the Japanese
Air Force. With little personal choice he was conscripted to the elite class of Kamikaze training. Here he excelled . . . except for the
realization that he might someday be called upon to deliver destruction to his homeland. He was caught within a system and
circumstances, testing his loyalties that would mark him for the rest of his life.
Fortunately, “my number never was called,” he later expressed. The war had ended, the truce was signed, and one very jubilant son
was freed from all obligations. Mino returned to Kailua, worked in agriculture all of his active life, and lived peacefully and quietly
with his family as a “keiki o ka aina.” For many years he volunteered at the Hawaii Okinawan Center as its groundskeeper. Always
reluctant to reveal his dramatic story, he chose to humbly use his own energy and calm demeanor toward peaceful, productive
purposes. It is not surprising that he and his wife, Kay, would become interested in the history of Kailua, faithfully attending most of
Mino passed away in February of this year, at the age of almost 94. Now we are free to celebrate his story, something he would not
permit us to do in life. His spirit of valiant courage, hard work, loyalty, and peacefulness remain alive among us.