Herbert Isonaga was born in 1921 in Koloa, Kauai. His family operated Isonaga Store, which supplied Filipino bachelors employed by Koloa Sugar Company with iriko (parched small sardine), shrimp, bagoong (fermented fish sauce), codfish and various canned goods. Trousers, shirts, lunch pail bags and tabi (Japanese socks), all sewn by Herbert’s mother, were also available
Of the 50 or 60 in his class at Koloa School, only 20, including Herbert, continued their studies at Kauai High School. Winning by one vote, “Landslide” Isonaga was elected senior class president. He went on to attend college at the University of Oregon and the University of Hawaii.
After the war, Herbert graduated with a degree in business from UH. He operated a bookstore near the university. Later, he ran Herbie’s Drive-In. After selling his business to KC Drive-In, Herbert went into real estate with Hung Wai Ching.
Herbert Isonaga is one of my heroes. . .I am so grateful I got to meet him and tell his story.
“The greatest thing that happened to the AJA community was World War II. The 442nd and the 100th did a great service to the AJA community and ourselves for having served. I take great pride in that.
I sincerely feel that the recognition we deserve has been offered to us in many, many ways. Primarily in the opportunities that it has offered us.”- Herbert Isonaga