On October 17th, 2021, the people of Bruyères, France held a celebration to honor the soldiers of the 100th/442nd who liberated their town from German occupation 77 years ago. Additionally, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Bruyères and Honolulu sister city relationship.
Merci à Josiane and Bernard Hans, who sent to us these beautiful photos!
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Volunteer project between the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd RCT and the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Contributed by S&D member Jon Ishihara
Since August of last year, a dedicated group of Sons & Daughters members have been giving their time and effort each week for a volunteer project at Hamilton Library of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The volunteer project is to digitize the holdings in the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library that were donated to the Library by the 442nd Veterans Club years back and which consists of thousands of documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other material such as the memoirs of Love Company, 3rd Battalion. After digitization, the material will be available to all with Internet access via the Archives & Manuscripts Department’s web pages for perusal and research. Currently, the bulk of the material must be accessed in person by visiting Hamilton Library on the Manoa campus.
The results of this volunteer project will differ from 442nd Regimental Combat Team-related NARA documents currently available online via the Archives & Manuscripts Department and other websites such as the Japanese American Veterans Association (https://java.wildapricot.org/) and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Legacy website (the442.org) in that the digitization by the Sons & Daughters and the Archives & Manuscripts Department involves creating files by use of optical character recognition (OCR) software that are searchable within the documents themselves. Additionally, the JAVA website and the442.org website each appears to have some of the same documents as the Archives & Manuscripts Department but also different documents in their respective collections. Therefore, it seems safe to state that all three collections are useful to those interested in information about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In brief, this story has its roots in the work led by veterans such as Ted Tsukiyama in Hawaii and dedicated persons on the mainland to seek out material in the NARA collections (in Washington, D.C. and Maryland) related to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the incarceration of Japanese Americans and their Issei parents and family members after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Military Intelligence Service and the WWII period. Copies of the material compiled were donated to the University of Hawaii Library by the 442nd Veterans Club/442nd RCT Foundation where it resides in the Archives & Manuscripts Department.
Our S&D volunteers are re-scanning the thousands of documents to meet accessibility standards, are using OCR software to create the searchable files and are compiling the “metadata” on each document that will be used for identification and discovery. Scanning is the most straightforward task. The OCR step involves checking that each word in a document is correctly recognized by the OCR software and can mean retyping an entire document if the document is of too poor quality to be “read” by the software. Creating the metadata involves inputting a document title, author, date, etc. and also reading the entire document in order to summarize the contents in one or a few sentences. This is a time-consuming effort and to date, approximately 24 of 35 boxes of the NARA documents at the Archives & Manuscripts Department have been scanned. However, our S&D volunteers feel this project is a concrete way to help keep the legacy of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team alive into the future. Each of us is also learning much more about the 442nd RCT and the WWII period than we imagined prior to starting the project.
This is a true win-win situation as the goal of both the Sons & Daughters and Hamilton Library is to make this material related to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team publicly accessible online. The Sons & Daughters volunteers are the manpower and heart of this project and the Archives & Manuscripts Department provides the guidance, equipment and facilities for the digitization. Mahalo Nui Loa to our Sons & Daughters volunteers Juanita Wright Allen, Lynn Heirakuji, Jon Ishihara, Mae Isonaga, Gayle Kawahakui, Steve Migdol, Tracy Sakai, Caitlin Shishido, Laughlin Tanaka, Janice Trubitt and Bill Wright who each volunteer several hours per week for this large undertaking. Mahalo Nui Loa also to Leilani Dawson and the staff at the Archives & Manuscripts Department of Hamilton Library for the training and support of our volunteers. We look forward to seeing the material online.
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There will be a free screening of a documentary by NHK (national broadcasting org in Japan) on Oahu at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH). Details summarized below and included in the pdf document that follows.
NHK WORLD-JAPAN Cordially Invites You to a screening of NHK Documentary –
Rescuing the Lost Battalion, The story behind the “Heroes”
Date: Tuesday, June 5th
Place: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Manoa Grand Ballroom
Doors Open 5:30 pm
Event begins 6:00 pm
Admission: Free (Light refreshments will be served).
About “Rescuing the Lost Battalion”
During World War II, Japanese-Americans formed the 442 Infantry Regiment to show their loyalty to the United States. Despite discrimination at home, they served with distinction on the Western Front and were regarded as heroes. This documentary explores their bravery through recollections of its members and confidential records.
To attend, please RSVP to Sal Miwa by Friday May 25th. – Sal Miwa firstname.lastname@example.org
In Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, we offer these selected facts and resources, many perhaps well known to you already with others less so, related to the brave and honorable men of the 442nd. Any errors are inadvertent and the responsibility of the E-/web editor.
◊ U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall approves formation of Nisei combat team on January 1, 1943. The combat team is formally authorized by President Roosevelt on Feb. 1.
◊ The call for volunteers is issued on January 28, 1943 by the War Department, with a proclamation in Hawaii and by posters, press and other means on the U.S. mainland and later by recruiting teams, and the 442nd is activated on February 1 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
◊ Volunteers for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the Territory of Hawaii are given an aloha ceremony on March 28, 1943 at Iolani Palace while on the mainland, officers and enlisted men had already begun reporting to Camp Shelby in small groups and individually from February 1.
◊ Volunteers from Hawaii depart on April 4, 1943 for Camp Shelby, arriving 2,686 strong on April 13.
◊ The 442nd RCT begins basic training on May 10, 1943.
◊ The 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), who had arrived at Camp Shelby in January 1943 from Camp McCoy (Wisconsin), leave Camp Shelby on August 11 and ship out for North Africa on August 21, 1943 where the Battalion joins the 34th Division.
◊ Basic training ends for the 442nd RCT on August 23, 1943 and platoon and company level training begins in October followed by battalion training in November.
◊ Ten officers and 165 enlisted men from the 442nd RCT are transferred to be replacements for the 100th Inf Bn in January 1944 with another 20 officers and 210 enlisted men transferred in February.
◊ The 442nd RCT is reviewed by Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall on March 4, 1944.
◊ Another 10 officers and 155 enlisted men are transferred to be replacements for the 100th Inf Bn in (month).
◊ The 442nd RCT (short one infantry battalion) leave Camp Shelby on April 22-23, 1944 and board Liberty ships on May 1. On May 2 the 442nd ship out from Virginia via convoy for Naples, Italy. The remainder of 1st Battalion stay at Camp Shelby to later become the 171st that trains replacement personnel for the 442nd for the duration of the war.
◊ The 442nd, minus most of 2nd Battalion whose ships had detoured to Oran (Algeria), arrive at Naples on May 28, 1944. Most of 2nd Battalion join the rest of the 442nd, who were on the move, on June 17 near Tarquinia, Italy.
◊ The 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) becomes part of the 442nd RCT on June 11, 1944 and is redesignated the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry on Aug 10, 1944 (instead of being designated the 1st Battalion).
◊ The 442nd RCT enters combat on June 26, 1944 near Belvedere, Italy as part of the 34th Infantry Division.
◊ The Anti-Tank Company is detached from the 442nd from July 13-Oct 24, 1944 during which time the men become “glider troops.”
◊ The 442nd RCT take part in the Vosges Campaign (including the liberation of Bruyeres and Biffontaine) and the fighting to rescue the “Lost Battalion” in October and November 1944.
◊ The 100th is detached from the 442nd from Nov 10-28, 1944 and make their way to Menton in Southern France.
◊ The 442nd (less the 522nd FAB) help break the Gothic Line in the Po Valley Campaign in March 1945.
◊ The 522nd FAB is detached from the 442nd on March 15 and pursue German troops into Germany along with other American units. The 522nd encounter those who had been held in Nazi death camps and sub-camps near Dachau.
◊ The war in Europe ends on May 8, 1945. Men of the 442nd start being sent back to the U.S. and then on home to their families.
◊ Members of the 442nd RCT march to the White House Lawn on July 16, 1946 and the RCT is presented a seventh Presidential Unit Citation by President Truman.
◊ The 442nd RCT is deactivated in August 1946 but is reactivated in July 1947 as part of the Army Reserve.
◊ The Album, 442nd Combat Team 1943 created by the 442nd (includes photos of each company at Camp Shelby in 1943) and Americans: The Story of The 442d Combat Team by Orville C. Shirey are available online via Peter Wakamatsu’s website at https://www.the442.org/home.html (accessed 2.8.2018)
◊ A selection of photograph’s from the 442nd 10th Anniversary gathering courtesy of the family of Kazutoshi Fujino, Easy Co., is available on the S&D website at this link.
Selection of photos from the 442nd RCT 10th Anniversary events, 1953
These photos were made available courtesy of the family of the late Kazutoshi Fujino, Easy Company.
(double click on an image to see a larger size photo; you may also be able to right click on an image to save a copy to your device. apologies for the page layout that covers the right side of larger sized photos)
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The Champagne Campaign in the French Maritime Alps, Part 2
A brief summary of the “Champagne Campaign” was included in the November 2017 E-newsletter. The 100th/442nd was assigned to protect the right flank of the Sixth Army Group along the French-Italian border in the French Maritime Alps from November 1944 to March 1945. Despite the use of the term “champagne” and the liberty granted many of the men to Nice, Paris and other French towns and cities, there was still war at hand and daily patrols and fighting took place.
Excerpts from the Headquarters 442D Regimental Combat Team Monthly Historical Report for the month of January 1945 will serve to highlight some of what the men lived through during this “campaign”.
New Year’s Day 1945, the 100th conducted reconnaissance from Menton to Castillon, the 2nd Bn did the same from Castillon to Mount Grosso, the 522nd fired in support of the 2nd Bn and the 232nd Combat Engineers laid mines.
January 3, Able Co. and Fox Co. patrols went on reconnaissance and reported no enemy activity, 3rd Bn organized a reserve line from Roquebrune to Col de Braus, Antitank Co. was on guard duty on roads and at installations, 94 Italian refugees were apprehended and turned over to command in Nice, and new cold-climate sleeping bags were distributed to the companies.
January 10, the Regimental HQ and Medical Detachment moved location by 5 miles, 232nd assisted Easy, Fox and George Cos. with laying antipersonnel mines and double apron fences, and a ration of beer and candy was distributed to the companies.
January 15, a George Co. patrol departed for Olivetta at 1700 with the intention of capturing prisoners and engaged with enemy troops on the banks of the Bevera River. The patrol leader was hit and the radio was damaged and inoperable. The patrol withdrew and S Sgt Rocky Matayoshi went to retrieve his lieutenant and carried him back 300 yards under fire. The patrol then attempted to move location but encountered a mine field and also could not cross the Bevera River, so spent the night outside. The next day, five men who were headed to the patrol to evacuate the wounded lieutenant ran into a minefield and two were killed with the other three wounded.
January 21, all personnel were ordered to check and carry gas masks and protective equipment at all times, a Fox Co. patrol had spent the night in the field and returned at 1600 with no enemy contact, Mike Co. guards recaptured two German POWs that had escaped from Nice, the 522nd fired in support of the 100th.
January 30, a plaque from the 1st Bn, 141st Infantry Regiment (36th Infantry Division), the “Lost Battalion”, was received by 442nd HQ and the inscription on the plaque read, “To the 442d Infantry with deep sincerity and utmost appreciation for the gallant fight to effect our rescue after we had been isolated for seven days. Biffontaine, France, 24-30 October, 1944.”
This was also a period of rebuilding the strength of the 442nd. Ten officers and 369 enlisted men joined the 442nd as replacements during this one month alone, and these replacements brought the 442nd back to near full strength. The other side of this is that the replacements were needed because 442nd men had been killed or injured in combat during the previous months.
This Time in 442nd RCT History After the Vosges: The Champagne Campaign in the French Maritime Alps
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.
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.
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 from https://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.
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.
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 RCT History
Start of Life at Camp Shelby for the 442nd RCT: our Fathers, Uncles, Grandfathers
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.
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
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.
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 & 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.
image of poster with Pres. Roosevelt’s words on “Americanism”
Thereafter began the 442nd RCT story.
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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.
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!
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.
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