In the middle of RIMPAC, the largest international military exercise of the Pacific, Hawaii's Nisei veterans are honored for their valor and sacrifice to America's Allies during World War II.
Aboard the French ship Prairial, members of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team gathered to receive a historic medal itself: the French Legion of Honor.
"It is the highest honorific medal in France, created by Napoleon. It is the real soldier's medal," said Rear Adm. Ann Cullere, the French Naval Commander.
70 years ago, Nisei soldiers, second-generation Japanese American troops largely from Hawaii, fought their way through France. The suffered incredible losses but earned countless honors for their bravery in their battles with German troops.
"We humbly recognize what the men of the 442nd and 100th battalion achieved during those dreary winter days. The liberation of France is worth our eternal gratitude," added Cullere.
The 442nd is the most decorated U.S. unit for its size, but even this ceremony was a first for the group. The French government started giving the Legion of Honor to U.S. World War II veterans only a decade ago.
"I am honored, but I didn't expect this kind of service. I was just another guy in the 100th battalion," said Shuji Akiyama, a 100th Battalion Veteran.
France has not forgotten what the members of the Allied troops did for them. For some former soldiers, even seven decades later the war is vividly remembered.
"It was kind of scary, but since I didn't have a girlfriend it made a lot of difference. You just went into battle as a volunteer," stated Akiyama.
The French Legion of Honor pinned to each man shirt has a red ribbon, which symbolizes a red badge of honor.
As they received the prestigious award, the humble nature of the Hawaii heroes came through. Instead of basking in the honor, they remembered fellow soldiers who gave even more for the liberation of France -- the ultimate sacrifice.
"I really appreciate this honor, not for my personal gain but for those that didn't come back. It is because of them and their sacrifices. We all fought together, but they gave the supreme sacrifice. How can you thank them more than in simple words?" asked 442nd veteran Yasunori Deguchi.
One member of the 442nd, 92-year-old Shiro Aoki, was not able to attend. A Legion of Honor medal was accepted on his behalf by a fellow soldier.
At the ceremony, Retired Canadian Army Col. Albert Brum, a Kaneohe resident, also received the medal for his efforts serving with the 1st Special Service Force -- an elite commando unit that fought behind enemy lines.