A small, “small world” back story for Natatorium history buffs: The floral display that adorned the front gate of the War Memorial during Monday’s Veterans Day commemoration was provided by Sono Hirose, daughter of pioneer swimmer Takashi “Halo” Hirose.
Sono Hirose’s father Halo was one of Hall of Fame Coach Soichi Sakamoto’s prodigies from Maui, a competitor in many Natatorium meets and one of Hawai’i’s most celebrated swimmer/soldiers. Among other accomplishments, he was a world record holder in the 400-meter freestyle relay in 1938, at age 16. He was selected as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1940, though the games scheduled for Tokyo that year were canceled because of World War II.
Halo Hirose was a veteran of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team and its celebrated 100th Infantry Battalion, known as the “Purple Heart Battalion.” He served his country in critical battles in Anzio, Italy, and Bruyeres, France.
At the end of the war and his service in the 100th, Halo Hirose returned to swim at Ohio State, winning Big Ten and NCAA titles in the 100-yard freestyle and helping the Buckeyes to Big Ten, NCAA and AAU team championships.
We thank Sono for remembering her remarkable father and honoring all veterans with her beautiful gift of flowers. Mahalo!