SHAKO: Japanese-American Soldiers Honored
Go for Broke
Nearly 70 years after they marched off to fight for the same government that interned their families during World War II, the Japanese-Americans veterans of three special Army units were honored by Congress.
Surviving members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service received congressional gold medals — the highest civilian awards Congress can bestow — at a ceremony Wednesday (Nov. 2) on Capitol Hill in Washington.
The 442nd RCT — which included the 100th Battalion after June 1944 — was made up of young men of Japanese descent from Hawaii, California and other Western states. It was the most decorated unit in U.S. military history winning 18,143 military awards. including 21 soldiers who received the nation’s highest award for military heroism, the Medal of Honor. Fifty-two were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 560 got the Silver Star medal, 4,000 the Bronze Star medal and an astounding 9,486 Purple Heart medals for wounds or death in battle. At any given time, the 442nd only numbered about 4,000.
The 442nd fought in Italy, France and Germany, winning eight presidential unit citations.
The men of the 442nd were all volunteers, most of whom had family interned in camps that were little better than prisons. After Pearl Harbor was attacked most Japanese Americans were declared enemy aliens and barred from the military draft. The men who eventually formed the 442nd petitioned Washington to be allowed to serve their country. The 100th Battalion was made up mostly of men from Hawaii who had been drafted into the Army or were serving in the Hawaii National Guard before Pearl Harbor. The 100th, which first fought at Salerno, Italy in 1943, later became the 1st Battalion of the 442nd.
The 6,000 members of the Military Intelligence Service — civilian and military — served as interpreters and interogators in the Pacific Theater of Operations. They translated captured Japanese documents, questioned prisoners and persuaded Japanese troops to surrender.
Here’s a link to a 1950s MGM film about the 442nd using their unit motto “Go For Broke” as the title.
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