History

This Time in 44nd RCT History (Nov 2017)

This Time in 442nd RCT History
After the Vosges: The Champagne Campaign in the French Maritime Alps

map of the bruyeres area
October 30, 1944 was a Monday but for many with a sense of history it is the day the 442nd RCT reached the 1st Battalion, 141 Infantry Regiment in what has come to be known as the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion.”  This is a short summary of the movements of the 442nd following the brutal fighting in the Vosges Mountains, including the Rescue.

According to historical information in the National Archives, the 100th Infantry Battalion was detached from the RCT on November 10 and was sent to Nice on the southern coast of France.  The rest of the 442nd RCT was given relief on November 17 after the more than one month of fighting in the Vosges.  They traveled by truck a distance of 540 miles over four days to St. Jeannet, just a few miles west of Nice in the “Maritime Alps” of France, stopping in Docelles within the township of Bruyeres for one day.  One can only imagine the thoughts of some of the men as they rode in the trucks down from the eastern part of France to the southeast, after the fighting in the mountains and the liberation of the towns of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, and the loss of so many of their friends and comrades.

map of maritime alps area

The RCT reentered duty on November 23, Thanksgiving Day in 1944, having been attached to the 44th Antiaircraft Artillery (AAA) Brigade, and the men provided defensive duty along the France-Italian border until March 1945.  The 100th rejoined the 442nd on November 28.  The duty for the 442nd was to patrol a stretch of the border.  But because the area is part of the French Riviera and the men were able to avail themselves of the comforts of the resort towns as the units were not engaged in battle, this period has been dubbed the Champagne Campaign.

In spite of the relative peace of this duty compared to front line battle, 11 442nd soldiers died, 96 were were wounded and others went missing or were injured.  A notable event that occurred in the town of Menton was the capture of a one-man German submarine.  This is reported to be the first time that the U.S. Army captured an enemy submarine, and it was accomplished by soldiers of the 442nd.  Read more details of the event in the link below to a transcript of stories by Antitank Company Shiroku Yamamoto.

Sources

http://www.goforbroke.org/learn/history/combat_history/world_war_2/european_theater/rhineland_maritime.php

http://nisei.hawaii.edu/object/io_1149149955984.html

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This Time in 442nd RCT History (Sept 2017)

RHINELAND CAMPAIGN-VOSGES (October 10, 1944 – November 21, 1944)

There were five major battle campaigns that were fought by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of which the Rhineland Campaign-Vosges was one of them.  The 442nd arrived in France in October 1944 to join the 36th Division as part of the 7th Army, after fighting in and then leaving Italy, where the 442nd and 100th Infantry Battalion had joined up to form the RCT.  At this point in time, the Allies were about 40 miles from the France/Germany border but the Vosges Mountains brought a new type of terrain experience for the 442nd soldiers.

map of Bruyeres showing 442nd RCT movement and hills A, B, C, D

map from http://1stabtf.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/map-bruy%C3%A8res-17-octobre.png

In order to proceed ahead towards the border, the soldiers needed to secure the town of Bruyeres.  Bruyeres is located in a valley bordered by four hills, which were heavily guarded by the Germans.  The Allies labeled the hills A, B, C, and D.  Hill A was Northwest of Bruyeres, Hill B to the North, Hill C on the Northeast side, and Hill D was to the East.  Besides the hilly terrain and dense forest, the soldiers encountered thick fog, mud, rain and cold temperatures, conditions that were extremely challenging for fighting.

On October 15, 1944, the 442nd began their attack on Bruyeres, under the command of Major General John Dahlquist.  The 100th Infantry Battalion attacked Hill A, the 2nd Battalion attacked Hill B and the 3rd Battalion moved in to take the town of Bruyeres.  After three days of “vicious” fighting and assistance from the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Hills A and B were secured and the enemy was cleared out of Bruyeres.  The Germans still held Hills C and D, so on October 19, the soldiers began their assault on those hills.  With casualties of 100 plus men, the hills were finally secured.  Hill D became known as “Ohama’s Hill” to the 442nd in remembrance of Tech Sergeant Abraham Ohama, F Company.

After some needed rest, the 100th was ordered to march east to the town of Biffontaine.  They were soon encircled by German forces who fired heavy artillery and rocket fire.  Low on supplies, the 100th had to hide in building cellars and wait for assistance.  Finally on October 23, the 3rd Battalion of the 442nd reached the 100th and assisted in driving out the German forces and handing Biffontaine to the 36th Division.

The Rhineland Campaign-Vosges liberated several towns in France but it had the most profound impact on Bruyeres and Biffontaine.  In honor of being liberated by the soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team from German forces, the people of the two villages have erected monuments and hold yearly celebrations to recognize the soldiers of the 442nd.  School children in Bruyeres learn to sing Aloha Oe and Hawaii Ponoi as part of their curriculum.  It is impressive to see the extreme gratitude of the people of these two towns toward the 442nd RCT and their families.  If you have the chance to visit the area, such as during the planned 2019 tour, you will get to experience this first hand.  Others have been fortunate to have already visited Bruyeres and Biffontaine, as written about in our May e-newsletter.

photo from Bruyeres town websitehttp://www.ville-bruyeres.fr/

References

http://www.goforbroke.org/learn/history/combat_history/world_war_2/european_theater/rhineland_vosges.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/442nd_Infantry_Regiment_(United States)#Vosges_Mountains

http://www.the442.org/battlehistory.html

http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/nisei/index6_vosges.html

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This Time in 442nd History (July 2017)

The Flight of the Anti-Tank Company

glider
(photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was an U.S. Army infantry unit, as we the friends and family of the 442nd veterans know. Not all may know, however, that just weeks after the 442nd arrived in Italy and entered combat in June of 1944, the men of the Anti-Tank Company were separated from their 442nd brethren to be trained as glider troops taking to the air to transport anti-tank guns, Jeeps and ammunition. Here are some details of the flight of the Anti-Tank Company.

For general background, the 442nd HQ, 2nd and 3rd Battalions had all arrived in Italy by mid-June 1944. The battle hardened 100th Infantry Battalion was attached to the 442nd RCT on June 11. The 442nd RCT then entered combat in Italy on June 26 near Suvereto and continued this phase of fighting until July 24. Within this context, the Anti-Tank Company was detached from the RCT on July 16 for a secret mission in support of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France by Allied troops.

The men of Anti-Tank Company learned that they were assigned to glider training. They had to learn how to load and lash down equipment in the gliders, and the gliders would be used to transport the entire Company with British-made anti-tank guns in to the battlefield. They did this training near Rome.

Then on August 15, as part of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Airborne Task Force, the men of Anti-Tank Company loaded into the gliders, were pulled by U.S. aircraft from Italy to Southern France and landed in the fields and in the trees around Le Muy, France. There were injuries, especially to the pilots of the gliders that were transporting the Company. The 517th paratroopers had preceded the Anti-Tank Company to secure the landing areas, and these infantry men suffered casualties.

The Company was able to set up their guns and for two months after their glider flights guarded the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the flank of the U.S. 7th Army. The Anti-Tank Company is the only unit in the 442nd to receive the Glider Badge.

Read the words of veterans of the Anti-Tank Company in these links:
http://nisei.hawaii.edu/object/io_1149148189765.html (accessed 7/8/2017)
http://www.100thbattalion.org/archives/newspaper-articles/ben-tamashiro/the-antitank-company-442-rct/ (accessed 7/8/2017)
http://www.goforbroke.org/learn/history/combat_history/world_war_2/european_theater/southern_france_campaign.php (accessed 7/8/2017)

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Hawaii History Day State Fair competition (2017)

Hawaii History Day State Fair competition

Sixth-grader Victoria (Tori) Yamashita and her panel display on the 442nd RCT, titled ‘Go for Broke’.”
Sixth-grader Victoria (Tori) Yamashita and her panel display on the 442nd RCT, titled ‘Go for Broke’.” (from Byrnes Yamashita)

 

 

The legacy of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team is alive and well as represented by several entries in the State Finals of the Hawaii History Day State Fair, held on April 15, 2017 at the Windward Community College on Oahu.

Sons and Daughters members Grace Fujii, Byrnes Yamashita and Jonathan Ego attended the Hawaii History Day State Fair finals at Windward Community College campus and enjoyed the competition and awards ceremony. Jonathan’s father, Kenji Ego, a 442nd RCT veteran, was also in attendance.

Angelee Marshall, a 7th grade student from Kahuku Intermediate and High School, came in second for her 442nd RCT documentary and qualified for the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland, College Park in mid-June. She will share the final version of her documentary so that it can be posted on the S&D website. Stay tuned.

Byrnes’ two nieces, Tori and Katie Yamashita, qualified for the State finals from the Leeward District in the junior and senior categories, respectively. Tori produced a tri-fold display (photo above) on the history of the 100th/442nd RCT titled “Go for Broke.” Katie, along with partner Esther Park, produced a documentary video on the 442nd called “442nd RCT: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts.” Their project also qualified for the National History Day competition.

There were two entries featuring the 100th/442nd RCT from Maui students that also qualified for the National competition. It was heartwarming to see that students across the State are helping to perpetuate the legacy of the Nisei soldiers of World War II.

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This Time in 442nd History (May 2017)

This Time in 442nd RCT History
Start of Life at Camp Shelby for the 442nd RCT: our Fathers, Uncles, Grandfathers

E Co. at Camp Shelby
E Company, 2nd Battalion of the 442nd RCT, Camp Shelby, Mississippi. May 13, 1943. (National Archives and Records Administration.)

 

After the activation of the 442nd RCT in February and formation by March 1943, our men from Hawaii and the mainland went to train at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Most arrived in April, though some AJAs who were already in the U.S. Army and who were assigned to the 442nd got to Camp Shelby earlier.

The 442nd started training at about the time that the 100th Infantry Battalion, who had come to Camp Shelby from Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, was wrapping up theirs and readying for departure to fight in Europe. For the 442nd there are well known accounts of the fighting between men from Hawaii and men from the mainland. By the account in the following link, there were fights if a different type as well.

From the Hawaii Nisei Story project, you may remember Katsugo Miho’s telling of some of the details of life at Camp Shelby. Or read it for the first time.

Here in moving pictures (of poor video quality but the narration is clear) is an 11 minute film produced by the War Relocation Authority. It is public relations but gives a look at some of the training activities of the 442nd at Camp Shelby. (accessed 4/28/2017)

And finally, a story from the Los Angeles Times about veterans who returned to Camp Shelby in 1995. (accessed 4/28/2017)

Camp Shelby still serves as a training site to this day. It served as the training location for our men of the 442nd RCT.

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History Day Project on 442nd RCT

History Day Project on the 442nd RCT

Ms. Angelee Marshall, a Kahuku High and Intermediate School 7th grader (Oahu), contacted the S&D of the 442 RCT chapter to request information on the regiment with a questionnaire for her History Day documentary entry.  The request was shared with the 442nd Veterans Club members. We are grateful for Angelee’s contribution to the annual National History Day competition and to veteran Mr. Kenji Ego and others for submitting their answers to her questionnaire.  Here is a link to Angelee’s draft video, which she said she will be editing to correct some errors, https://vimeo.com/205118187.

We congratulate Angelee on winning her School and Windward (Oahu) District competition and heartily convey our very best wishes to Angelee for the State competition! The State Competition will be held on April 15, Saturday, 7:30 – 3:30 pm at the Windward Community College. Some S&D members plan to attend the public viewing and competition run off. Please join us!  The schedule for the competition is:

2017 HAWAI‘I HISTORY DAY STATE FAIR ~ Windward Community College
APRIL 15 @ 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM

7:30 am – 8:30 am: Registration
8:30 am – 8:45 am: Orientation and Welcome
9:00 am to 12:00 pm: First round of judging will be held
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm:  Public viewing of Exhibits
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm: Run-offs will be held
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm: Announcements of State History Day Winners and Closing

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This Time in 442nd History (Mar 2017)

This Time in 442nd RCT History
The following quote is one example of many where a commander of soldiers writes of the horribleness of war (the “plague of Mankind” refers to war). “My first wish is, to see this plague to Mankind banished from the Earth; & the Sons & daughters of this World employed in more pleasing & innocent amusements than in preparing implements, & exercising them for the destruction of the human race.” George Washington in a letter to his former aide-de-camp David Humphreys, 25 July 1785, written nearly 2 years after the end of the Revolutionary War.

The 442nd RCT and the Po Valley Campaign, April-May 1945
This is a synopsis of several written accounts of the Po Valley Campaign, links are provided below. The stories that are summarized are included as examples of the honor, bravery, sacrifice and above all the courage all of our soldiers of the 442nd RCT exhibited to prove their loyalty and to pave the way for all of us. The stories illustrate also the destruction that General Washington wrote about.

Private First Class Sadao S. Munemori had joined the 100th Infantry Battalion as a replacement from the 442nd prior to the 442nd arrival in Italy. Born in Los Angeles, he was 22 going on 23 in April 1945. In the advance to the Po Valley on 5 April, Pfc. Munemori of A Company took control of his squad after his squad leader fell wounded. Against enemy fire, he destroyed two enemy machine gun placements single handedly with grenades. When returning to his position and his men, a thrown enemy grenade hit his helmet and landed in a shell hole where two A Company men had sheltered. Pfc. Munemori dove to cover the grenade with his own body to smother the blast and saved the lives of two comrades. Pfc. Sadao S. Munemori was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Private Joe Hayashi of K Company, born in Salinas, led his squad on 22 April to take a steep hillside above Tendola, about 50 kilometers northwest of Pfc. Munemori’s heroism. Under fire from heavy machine guns, Pvt. Hayashi crawled forward to destroy the enemy position with a grenade attack. Pvt. Hayashi noticed elements of his platoon under fire from four additional enemy positions and again used a grenade to destroy the closest one. He then crawled to another enemy position, killing four of the enemy gunners and forcing the remaining to abandon position. As he attempted to pursue the enemy soldiers, he was hit by machine pistol fire. Private Joe Hayashi would become one of the last casualties of the war for the 442nd. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor 56 years later.

One day before Pvt. Hayashi fell in battle, Second Lieutenant Daniel Inouye from Honolulu and E Company led his platoon in an all-out assault of a German stronghold. He took out one machine gun nest and was wounded in the stomach, though he did not realize it until his men reached his position. With the platoon still under fire, 2nd Lt. Inouye rushed forward and silenced a second machine gun position with grenades. While his men were attacking the third machine gun nest, 2nd Lt. Inouye had dragged himself toward it unseen. As he was about to throw a live grenade towards the machine gun, a rifle grenade shot by an enemy solder tore apart his right arm with his grenade still clutched in his useless hand. Using his good arm, he extracted the live grenade from his hand and destroyed the third machine gun. He then shot the surviving German gunners using his left arm, enduring the damage to his right arm and side. Second Lieutenant Daniel Inouye was just 20 years old. His actions earned him a Distinguished Service Cross which was upgraded to a Medal of Honor that Senator Inouye accepted in June of 2000.

Links to several written accounts of the Po Valley Campaign:
http://www.goforbroke.org/learn/history/combat_history/world_war_2/european_theater/north_apennines_campaigns.php
http://www.javadc.org/po_valley_campaign.htm
http://www.homeofheroes.com/moh/nisei/index8_italy.html
http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/po/72-33.htm

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This Date in 442nd RCT History (Jan 2017)

photo of 442nd RCT volunteers taken 4.2.1943 in Aiea

442nd RCT volunteers in Aiea, April 2, 1943

The Call for Volunteers for the 442nd RCT, 74 Years Ago

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, our families in Hawai’i and the Mainland experienced arrests and internment; the classification of Japanese-American citizens as “enemy aliens” for military draft status; and many other prejudiced and unjustified actions and conditions.  On January 28, 1943, however, Lt. General Delos C. Emmons, military governor of Hawai’i, made the following announcement locally on behalf of the War Department:

“Once in a great while an opportunity presents itself to recognize an entire section of this community for their performance of duty.  All of the people of the Hawaiian Islands have contributed generously to our war effort.  Among these have been the Americans of Japanese descent.  Their role has not been an easy one.”

“Open to distrust because of their racial origin, and discriminated against in certain fields of the defense effort, they nevertheless have borne their burdens without complaint and have added materially to the strength of the Hawaiian area.  They have behaved themselves admirably under the most trying conditions, have bought great quantities of war bonds, and by the labor of their hands have added to the common defense.  Their representatives in the 100th Infantry Battalion, a combat unit now in training on the Mainland; the Varsity Victory Volunteers, and other men of Japanese extraction in our armed forces, have also established a fine record.”

“In view of these facts, and by the War Department authority, I have been designated to offer the Americans of Japanese ancestry an additional opportunity to serve their country.  This opportunity is in the form of voluntary combat service in the armed forces.  I have been directed to induct 1,500 of them as volunteers into the Army of the United States.  I am glad to make this statement to the Americans of Japanese extraction in the Hawaiian Islands.  This call for volunteers affords an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the faith that the Army has in their loyalty and fighting qualities. ”

“I believe the response to this call will be sincere and generous and that it will have the hearty support of the parents concerned and of the community as a whole.  The manner of response and the record these men establish as fighting soldiers will be one of the best answers to those who question the loyalty of American citizens of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii.”

photo of Lt. General Delos C. Emmons and Col. Richard Tongg, Jan. 1943

photo of Lt. General Delos C. Emmons & Col. Richard Tongg, Jan. 1943

On the Mainland, with over 110,000 Issei and Nisei living in “relocation camps”, the call for volunteers was via recruitment posters with words attributed to President Roosevelt (but drafted by War Department staff such as Elmer Davis) and the posters were supplemented by recruitment drives.

poster with Pres. Roosevelt's words on "Americanism"

image of poster with Pres. Roosevelt’s words on “Americanism”

 

Thereafter began the 442nd RCT story.

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Fighting Two Wars AJA Veterans Tribute

Nisei Veterans gathered for official photo at AJA tribute luncheonBy Gail Nishimura, S&D

It was a very interesting afternoon.  To see and talk to many veterans and their families was really something that I will remember for a long time. There were so many people who came out to honor the veterans and the slide show that was playing in the background was an additional highlight.  It was nice to see my uncle’s picture when it popped up.  photo of slide show

Most of the veterans posed for the official picture, I think this was a big challenge for the photographers.  But the photo came out really nice!

photo of one of the group pictures

The mistress of ceremonies, Leslie Wilcox, kept the program moving smoothly. I was really impressed with the speakers, starting with Governor David Ige, followed by former Governor George Ariyoshi, and our keynote speaker Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. When I first heard that Gov. Ariyoshi was with the MIS, I was really surprised.  Thought he was too young to be in the war! (Although he didn’t go into the service until 1944 and is about four years younger than my uncle, who was also in the MIS).

I enjoyed the speakers and each brought a slightly different perspective to how the war affected their families and their own lives.  Gov. Ige’s father was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion, already noted was Gov. Ariyoshi’s service in the MIS, and Admiral Harris’ mother was from Japan & he was raised in Tennessee. Seems that Gov. Ariyoshi and my uncle had the similar “notice” from Uncle Sam…one day my uncle was in 522B at Camp Shelby and the next day he was headed to Fort Snelling in Minnesota! Gov. Ariyoshi thought he was getting out of the service but was sent to Fort Snelling instead.  (Note: my uncle now lives in Tennessee!)

One of my tablemates at the tribute was a Leilehua grad like me and we were impressed with the Leilehua High School Honors Chorus – nice to see our alma mater represented! Good job!

Overall, I enjoyed the day, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The speeches were inspiring and makes me want to try and be a better person and live up to what my parents tried to teach me as a person of Japanese ancestry.

Pearl Harbor 75th Fighting Two Wars luncheon-Dec5-inside photo

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Saul’s 71st Anniversary Speech

Eric-1

Honolulu, Hawaii – March 23, 2014. The 442nd Veterans Club held their 71st Anniversary Banquet in honor of the formation of their Unit. Over 600 veterans, family members and guests attended this memorable event, which was filled with lots of speeches and entertainment. Military historian and curator, Eric Saul delivered the keynote speech. Here is a copy of his inspiring speech:

Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts 

Speech for 442nd RCT 71st Anniversary Reunion

Honolulu, Hawai’i, March 23, 2014 

By Eric Saul

“I think we all felt that we had an obligation to do the best we could and make a good record.  So that when we came back we can come back with our heads high and say, ‘Look, we did as much as anybody else for this country and we proved our loyalty; and now we would like to take our place in the community just like anybody else and not as a segregated group of people.’ And I think it worked.”

– Nisei solder, Camp Shelby, Mississippi

“Hawaii is our home; the United States our country…  We know but one loyalty and that is to the Stars and Stripes.”

– Nisei solder, volunteering for the U.S. Army

Who were you?  First of all, you were Americans.  You happened to be of Japanese ancestry.  You were called Nisei.  You were second generation, born in the United States.  Most were born in the 1920s.

Where were you from?  You were from Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island.  You were also from California, Oregon and Washington.  You grew up in cities like Honolulu, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, Fresno, and San Jose.  You grew up in neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, the Palama District, and others.  You lived in hundreds of small farming towns in the Western United States.  You lived in the Little Tokyo’s and Japantown’s of the big cities on the West Coast.  Here in Hawaii, you grew up on plantations with funny-sounding names like Hanapepe, Pu’unene and Lihue, where you toiled in the hot sun, helping your parents to harvest and process the sugar cane and pineapples.

You went to schools like McKinley, Garfield, and Roosevelt High School, named after great presidents. 

You were raised to be Americans.  As American as apple pie and hot dogs.   You studied the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and American history.  Every day, you pledged allegiance to the flag.  You learned and were taught that you could aspire to anything that you dreamed.  You were proud to call yourselves Americans.  And you were proud to call yourselves Americans of Japanese Ancestry.

After school, you most often reluctantly attended Japanese language school.  You resented having to sit in a classroom rather than playing baseball, football or basketball.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a brutal blow.  You were soon reminded that your faces were not like other Americans—you had the face of the enemy and all that it represented, but truly you had the heart of an American.

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Opening Day at Building 640

Art Ishimoto

San Francisco- November 11, 2013. The MIS Historic Learning Center held its opening day ceremonies after 25 years in the making. It began operations as the first MIS language school in 1941, a month before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many dignitaries, veterans, and family members attended the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Arthur Ishimoto (Ret), a MIS veteran, delivered the following keynote speech:

 

Building 640, The Presidio, San Francisco, California

I was a member of the Military Intelligence Service during World War II.  This building has a connection to all of us who served in the MIS.  We began our long journey from here to prove we’re Americans.

But first, let me remind you of our shameful and ugly history so that you can fully understand why so much blood was spilled by my generation.

Our lives changed dramatically on December 7, 1941.

We nisei were suspected of being disloyal and were classified as “enemy aliens” (4-C).  With one stroke of a pen, 70,000 nisei lost their citizenship. One hundred and twelve thousand  Japanese residents from the West Coast were sent to internment camps.  From April 1942 to October 1943, 17,000 so-called “enemy aliens” lived in the stables at Santa Ana racetrack under deplorable condition.

In 1943, we were allowed to enlist in the Army.  Even while in the Army, we were called Japs. When we returned home from the battlefields with Purple Hearts,  we were met with signs that read, “No Japs allowed”. We were refused service at barber shops, restaurants and other places.

We looked like the enemy, but  we were Americans at heart. What price is freedom, we wondered?

Most internees accepted their confinement, surrendered and said, “Shikata ga nai,  meaning “it can’t be helped, there is nothing we can do”.  Oh yes, we did.  More than  33,000 of us served in the military during World War II..  That was more than 13 percent of the total Japanese  population in the U.S.  and   greater than the national average.

In Japanese culture, there were values we depended on. Gaman is one.  It means “endure, tolerate, persevere”.  My judo sensei yelled in the dojo many times, “Ganbare   “don’t give up, hang in there.”

We suffered racial adversity since that December day. We had to gaman and ganbare. These two values were our guiding principle that navigated us through a sea of racial prejudice, hatred and distrust. 

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Veterans Day onboard the USS Missouri

USS Tsukiyama

November 11, 2013 – Honolulu, Hawaii. The Battleship Missouri Memorial hosted a ceremony to recognize the 70th Anniversary of the Nisei Veterans of World War II. The event was held on deck of the Missouri and was attended by veterans, families and friends.

Veteran Ted Tsukiyama, 442nd RCT and MIS, gave the following speech:

ANSWERING THE CALL

Pearl Harbor Attack

            7:55 a.m., December 7, 1941, that fateful moment in history when the first Japanese bombs rained down upon Pearl Harbor and drastically transformed the lives of everyone in Hawaii, and most particularly those of Japanese ancestry. No one who was here can ever forget that day. I remember it well.

I couldn’t sleep that unforgettable Sunday morning by the constant rumbling of thunder that would not cease. The sky above Pearl Harbor was black with smoke, punctuated by puffs of white aerial bursts. “They’re sure making this maneuver look real,” I thought. Turning on the radio, I heard the KGU announcer screaming, “Take cover! Get off the streets! We are being attacked by Japanese enemy planes. This is the real McCoy! Take cover!  Those words pierced my very core like a piece of shrapnel.

I heard but could not comprehend. I was assailed by swirling succession of feelings and passions. First I was stunned by utter surprise and shock. I was benumbed with disbelief and then denial….”this is just a bad dream, it can’t be really happening.” There was indignant condemnation…..”You stupid damned fools, don’t you know who you are attacking?”  Then strangely, there was a twinge of guilt and shame for being the same race as the enemy but quickly supplanted by a dark foreboding and concern for innocent people like my parents who had nothing to do with the bombing and for the suffering that was sure to follow. But the final and lasting emotion was anger, outrage and hatred for our attackers and a vow that “I’m going to get you bastards!”, feelings that would last and would not diminish for the rest of the war.

Meanwhile the radio announcer Webley Edwards was frantically calling for all soldiers, sailors and marines to report to their battle stations, when suddenly I heard him say “All members of the University ROTC, report to your campus unit immediately.” I jumped into my ROTC uniform and rushed up to the ROTC armory at the UH campus within the first hour of the attack. The several hundred ROTC cadets arriving on campus were greeted with the sight of ROTC staff Sgt. Ward and Sgt. Hogan feverishly inserting firing pins in the World War I vintage Springfield .03 caliber rifles and issuing us a clip of five bullets. It should be noted that 60% to 75% of the ROTC corps was made up of cadets of Japanese ancestry, yet throughout it all there was no registration or signups, no swearing in nor any kind of formality. No one questioned us. There was absolutely no hesitancy, doubts or distrust in mustering us in. We were ordinary ROTC cadets responding to the call to defend our country, just like any other American soldier or sailor reporting to their battle stations in time of war. I reported to my ROTC unit, Company B, lst Battalion commanded by Captain Nolle Smith, for which I served as First Sergeant.

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Ceremony At Biffontaine

October 19, 2013 – Biffontaine, France

Over 300 gathered, including sons and daughters, family and friends of the 442, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the town of Biffontaine. The ceremony took place in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, at the place call Terminal 6, where the battle of the Lost Battalion took place.

Mr. Valentin, Deputy Mayor of Biffontaine, gave the follow speech:

Dear officials,  Ladies and Gentlemen, My dear friends,

Today, the town of BIFFONTAINE, surrounded with the committee of Terminal No. 6,  is honored by your visit and thank you warmly. At the dawn of the 70th anniversary of the liberation, we are here to prove that forgetting does not exist between our two countries.

In this little area in the Vosges, humble as we are in front of that stone monument, we all bow before our heroes’ courage, in respect and silence.

Today we’re thinking of those young people who came from a beautiful faraway country and who gave their youth and life to our country. They sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Remembering that shows to their families and to you all, my friends, that their supreme sacrifice was not vain.

That sacrifice gave France back its place in the world and helped to fight against the murderous madness of Nazism.

In front of that monument, erected on a site where fierce fightings occurred, we must remember that Freedom is never fully achieved. It is still fragile and it is our duty, to all of us, from the youngest to the eldest, to ensure that freedom and peace remain.

Those thousands of dead people, whose memory will remain etched in our hearts, must be recognized as they should be and that memory must hang over our forests.

In order that our descendants can remember, it is up to us to pass on the History and to preach again and again for a lasting peace between all peoples.

A country must remember the past to build the future.

Before we temporarily leave each other, I’d like to pay my last respect to Jean BIANCHETTI who died on August 10th. He was, with George HENRY, the founder of the monument Terminal No. 6. I wish to express here my gratitude to his family.

I wish you all a great day in BIFFONTAINE.

 

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Eric Saul on Solly Ganor and the Holocaust

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On September 5, 2013, Eric Saul wrote:

 

Dear Friends,

I wanted to take out a few moments and send you some material that I thought might be of interest to you.

I just received a letter from Mr. Solly Ganor, who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.  He is a child survivor of the Holocaust from Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania.  He survived one of the most brutal Nazi occupations in Europe.  He was a survivor of the Kovno Ghetto and several camps of the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp.  His mother and brother were murdered by the Nazis during the war.  More than 92% of the Jews of Lithuania were murdered by the Nazi occupiers.

In 1992, I started actively researching the role of the Niseis in the liberation of the sub-camps of Dachau.  At the time, I was working with a number of the 522nd veterans.  I was also working with the researchers at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

At that time, we had only a very sketchy understanding of what the Niseis did as part of their witnessing of the Holocaust in southern Germany in late April and early May 1945.

As part of my research, I sought out Jewish survivors who had the experience of being liberated by the Nisei soldiers at the end of the war.  My parents were living in Jerusalem at the time, and I had them place a news article in the English-speaking newspaper, the Jerusalem Post.  The article asked for Jewish survivors of Dachau to relate their experiences being liberated by Niseis.  I had several survivors contact me and relate their powerful experiences of being freed.

One of them was Solly Ganor, who was living in Herzliya, outside of Tel Aviv.  At the beginning of the war, Solly was just 11 years old.  When the Nazis occupied Lithuania in 1941, he was 13 years old.  At the time, his father was a prosperous, middle class merchant living in Kovno, Lithuania.

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Eric Saul Speaks To The Veterans

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Honolulu – August 4, 2013. Eric Saul, notable WWII military historian and advocate of the Nisei veterans spoke at a luncheon hosted by the MIS veteran’s organization. A crowd of about 80 veterans, family members and friends gathered for this special presentation. Here is a copy of Eric’s speech:

 

Nisei Soldier’s Legacy 

Speech by Eric Saul

You Japanese Americans had been part of the United States of America since 1885. This year marks the 128year anniversary of Japanese immigration.

            It has now been 72 years since the Japanese language school was founded at the Presidio of San Francisco in November 1941.  It has been 71 years since the 100th Infantry Battalion was created here in Hawai’i.  And it has been 70 years since the 442nd was created on February 1, 1943.

Many of your comrades have left us.  But your legacy of honor, duty and country lives on and will live on forever.  It will live on in the success of Japanese in America, and in the success of your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren…and forever.

Today, there are more than 700,000 Japanese Americans. This number is small and is only about one half of one percent of the U.S. population.

            Because of the size of your community, your story has often been overlooked or sometimes forgotten. Yet, your story is important and, in many ways, unique.

Your parents’ immigration to the United States was the first time in Japanese history that Japanese had ever been allowed to legally leave the country.

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