Maui News

New Book Shares Life of Maui’s Tommy “Tang” Sarashina

November 16, 2015, 3:51 PM HST
* Updated November 18, 3:51 PM
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Tommy “Tang” Sarashina and Maui author, Howard Fields announce the release of “Tommy’s Wars – Paradise to Hell and Back” with a book signing at Kāʻanapali Golf Courses on Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon.

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Sarashina was born in Lahaina in 1925.  Before WWII, he went to finish his schooling in Japan along with four siblings. Their father, who was a Buddhist priest, remained behind in Hawaiʻi and was imprisoned in an internment camp on the mainland.

While in Japan, Sarashina would then be conscripted into the Japan army during WWII. He was a POW in Siberia and later released back to Hiroshima, where his youngest brother had survived the atomic bomb.

For another 15 years, Tommy was barred from returning to Maui, but eventually made his way back to the island.

The book serves as a historic document of Sarashina’s family and how they all survived to tell about it.

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After finally returning to Maui and many years later after partial retirement, Sarashina took a job as Kāʻanapail Golf Courses’ “Player Assistant” where he recently retired after working for 25 years.

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As a assistant, Sarashina would drive the course and see if golfers needed help finding their golf ball, making sure they kept up with the pace of play.

According to representatives at the Kāʻanapali Golf Courses, Sarashina would also serve Tang to guests. It was said that, “he had a special measurement of Tang and water and that he made the best Tang out of any of the Players Assistants.”

“With 25 years of dedication and joy he brought to Kāʻanapali Golf Courses’ guests and fellow coworkers, Tommy touched the lives of over one million people at the facility,” representatives said in a book signing announcement.

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“I’m happy about the book – and the comments from two teachers that read it, they were excited and interested in the book. They said they couldn’t stop reading it until they finished,” said Sarashina. “All this for a Lahaina guy,” he said.

“After hearing about Tommy’s interesting life, I always knew someone should write a book about it,” said Kāʻanapali’s PGA General Manager, Ed Kageyama.  He continued, “We were so lucky to have Tommy as a part of our team at Kāʻanapali for so many years – the guests loved him here and would talk about what a warm and caring person he was – he wasn’t just a ‘marshal’, he was apart of our ʻohana (family).”

Author Howard Fields tells how he came about writing the book saying, “This began with hearing nuggets over the years about his having been a POW and asking him a bit more about it each time he came around in his “Players’ Assistant” cart on the course.”

Fields continued saying , “At one time, I thought he had an interesting story, perhaps good enough for a newspaper feature, but the more I talked to him, the more I realized it would take a book.”

Tommy Sarashina. Image courtesy: Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.

Tommy Sarashina. Image courtesy: Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.

Fields, Sarashina and Kageyama. Image courtesy: Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.

Fields Sarashina Kageyama – Author Howard Fields, Tommy “Tang” Sarashina and Ka’anapali Golf Courses’ PGA General Manager, Ed Kageyama pose in front of Tommy’s former “Players’ Assistant” cart. Photo credit: Jose Morales.

Tommy Sarashina.  Photo credit: Jose Morales.

Tommy Sarashina. Photo credit: Jose Morales.

Tommy Sarashina. Image courtesy: Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.

Tommy Sarashina. Photo credit: Jose Morales.

Tommy Sarashina signing copies of the book. Image courtesy: Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.

Tommy Sarashina signing copies of the book. Photo credit: Jose Morales.

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