Above and below: World War II veteran Don Seki and his wife and former “Rosie,” Sumi Seki, share their stories with Ike’s Soldiers.
ABILENE, Kan. — “We were under surveillance. FBI, CIC … so I ran all over the place — away from the counterintelligence officers,” recounted Don Seki, as he and his wife Sumi sat with Ike’s Soldiers one afternoon.
Together, their stories shed light on an unpopular perspective of World War II. In this interview, Seki, who was part of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke,” briefly explains how he spent the first year of the war avoiding arrest for being a Japanese American and eventually volunteered to join the U.S. military to prove his love for his country.
While serving with the 442nd, Seki participated in the liberation of the French town of Bruyeres from the Nazis and the rescue of the Texas “Lost Battalion” in the Vosges Mountains of southern France. During a battle in the Vosges Forest in 1944, he was hit by machine gun fire on his left arm, which had to be amputated above the elbow. He was awarded the Purple Heart.
Seki is immortalized on the cover of “The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage,” a book by photographer Shane Sato and oral historian Robert Horsting.
Additionally, his wife Sumi, who worked as a riveter, just like the icon “Rosie the Riveter,” shared her experiences of being held in internment camps in the Midwest before being released and serving the U.S. military efforts through her job on the homefront.
Ike’s Soldiers is a new program created by the Eisenhower Foundation. Its mission is to honor Dwight D. Eisenhower’s legacy through the compelling stories of the soldiers he led, and to share them with the world through IKEducation programs and digital media platforms.
“This initiative provides students, teachers, historians, and citizens of the world the opportunity to become part of history by collecting and submitting these stories to the Eisenhower Foundation’s new Ike’s Soldiers database,” shared Meredith Sleichter, the foundation’s executive director. “By doing so, we honor the soldiers who led us to one of the biggest victories in world history, and provide future generations with the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts about the experience.“
Featured on the Ike’s Soldiers website is an interview with former Kansas senator and World War II veteran Bob Dole, who said, “I am pleased that the Ike’s Soldiers initiative is capturing these compelling stories of World War II veterans. For our disappearing generation, these first-hand accounts will ensure that history is preserved – reminding future generations of the sacrifices made to preserve our everyday freedoms.”
Ike’s Soldiers is currently focused on capturing video testimonies from remaining World War II veterans. The program is open to all friends, family members, or fans of these veterans. Participants are asked to collect their veterans’ biographical information and story on video, then submit it to Ike’s Soldiers.
One of the driving forces behind Ike’s Soldiers is inviting young people to get involved. The Ike’s Soldiers student program is open to high school and college students.
Once submitted, Ike’s Soldiers will store the interviews in a format that current and future generations of students, historians, and family members of World War II veterans can access. In addition to presenting these stories in the database, Ike’s Soldiers will share them through social media and mass media platforms.
The mission of the nonprofit, public Eisenhower Foundation is to honor and champion the relevance today of the life and leadership of Dwight D. Eisenhower through compelling programs and events that celebrate his legacy. Donations to the foundation provide funding to support programs like Ike’s Soldiers and IKEducation, as well as the exhibits, educational programs, and events at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene.
Ike’s Soldiers was first made possible by a grant from The Cain Foundation (Austin, Texas) in honor of Staff Sgt. Frank Denius (1925-2018), one of the 10 most decorated soldiers from the European Front in World War II, and the 30th Infantry Division, known as “Old Hickory.”
Recently, the Crown family (Chicago) provided a grant in honor of Col. Henry Crown (1896-1990), whose wartime efforts as a procurement officer earned him the Legion of Merit for saving America and her Allies hundreds of millions of dollars.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website or connect with Ike’s Soldiers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.