History

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

solly

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

IMAG0587

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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*** 2012 Honor Roll ***

HonorRoll

In Memorium

The following tribute is in memory the veterans of the 100th/442nd RCT who have left us in 2012. It is with honor and gratitude that we dedicate our ongoing efforts to promote their legacy and all they stood for. Read more »

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The 100th Infantry Battalion

June 5th, 2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the formation of the 100th  Infantry Battalion.  Here is an article from The Hawaii Herald archives published on the 50th Anniversary (1992).

History/Roland Kotani From: “The Japanese in Hawaii: A Century of Struggle”
THE 100TH INFANTRY BATTALION
America’s “Purple Heart Battalion”
The Hawaii Herald (June 19, 1992)

The following historical profile on the 100th Infantry Battalion is excerpted from the chapter titled, “The Nisei Soldier” in Roland Kotani’s 1985 book, “The Japanese in Hawaii: A Century of Struggle.” The book was published by the Hawaii Hochi, Ltd. And was designated the official booklet of the Oahu Kanyaku Imin Centennial Committee.

On the barren Italian hillside, Masayuki “Sparky” Matsunaga huddled behind a terrace wall and prayed for the dawn. He could barely move his wounded leg. But the darkness seemed to be lifting from the corpse-strewn battlefield.

The young man from Hanapepe wondered if he’d ever be able to do anything about his Kauai High School teacher’s advise that he should become a politician. His father had always said, “Kuro ga ate fukai jinsei ga wakaru,” “Deeper understanding of human values comes only through personal suffering.” As he pulled his jacket close around himself, Masayuki though he’d become a compassionate politician with a definite understanding of human suffering-if he survived this war.

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Some Thoughts on the Congressional Gold Medal

Here is an article by Edgar Hamasu  reflecting on the recent Congressional Gold Medal events. It was published in the Hawaii Pacific Press.

Mitsuo “Ted” Hamasu, 100th Infantry Battalion Veteran, standing before his unit’s photo at the 100th Club House with brother Edgar Hamasu (on the right), Korean War Veteran and past President of Military Intelligence Veterans of Hawaii.

Article courtesy of the Hawaii Pacific Press (January 15, 2012). Photo courtesy of Edgar Hamasu.
 
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
By Edgar A. Hamasu, President
MIS Veterans Club of Hawaii

Introductory Remarks. When the publisher of Hawaii Pacific Press asked me to write about the December 17th celebration, I quickly replied that I was not a WW II veteran. I served in Military Intelligence Service, but it was in the Korean War.  When the WW II began, I was only 10 years old.  I told him that my brother, Mitsuo, fought with the 100th Infantry Battalion in WW II. But the publisher asked if I would write my impression about the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) events.
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Varsity Victory Volunteers

Seven University of Hawaii ROTC cadets honored for their sacrifice.

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*** Teds Corner *** SENPAI GUMI

Ted T. Tsukiyama resides in Honolulu and is an active member of the 442nd RCT Veterans Club and the MIS Veterans Club. During World War II, he was a member of the Varsity Victory Volunteers, the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd RCT, and the Military Intelligence Service. Throughout the years, Ted has served as a wartime historian, often writing about his own experiences.

Here is his latest article:

Senpai” translated into English means “elder,” “senior,” “predecessor” or “pioneer,” and the word “gumi” means “group,” “team,” or “class,”  so “senpai gumi” as referred to herein means “pioneer group” or “pioneer class.”  “Senpai Gumi” is also the name of a historical booklet edited by 100th/MIS veteran Richard S. Oguro which tells the story of the fifty nine Nisei soldiers of the 100th Battalion who in December 1942 were transferred out from their CampMcCoytraining over to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage (MISLS) to become the first group of Nisei from Hawaii to be trained for MIS service, hence the “senpai gumi” of Hawaii Nisei to enter the MIS.

These MIS Senpai all shared the common history of having been drafted into the army prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, were assigned to Hawaii National Guard service with the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiments until late May 1942 when they together with all other Nisei were separated out from the 298th and 299th and assembled  into the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion. On June 5, 1942 the Battalion comprised of 1,432 Nisei were shipped off to the mainland when they were re-designated the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) and sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for combat training.

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*Nisei Diploma Project* California State University

 

 

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*** 2011 Honor Roll ***

In Memoriam

The following tribute is in memory the veterans of the 100th/442nd RCT who have left us in 2011. It is with honor and gratitude that we dedicate our ongoing efforts to promote their legacy and all they stood for.
  Read more »

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GFB Bulletin Archives *** 232nd Combat Engineer Company

Here is an article by Charley Ijima from the Go For Broke Bulletin Archives (Vol. XLVIII No.4) October – December 1997.

What was the 232
nd Engineers role in World War II?

The 232nd Engineer company was a very unique outfit.  This company was the only company in the 442 Regimental Combat Team that was comprised of 100% Nisei members.  All the other companies had white officers in command positions. 
Our company commander told us that he was given permission by the commander of the 442nd that he could pick and choose whoever he wanted from the Regiment’s roster to form this company.

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A Country Stolen: The Story of the VVV

The story of the Varsity Victory Volunteers was published in the Hawaii Herald on March 17, 1995.  It was contributed by Bill Thompson and based on Army records and interviews. 

VVV Statue

It was about 3:00 a.m. in the morning. A shout went through the barracks at the shooting range for the men to wake up and assemble outside. The soldiers sleepily fell into line to hear the orders. What emergency had taken place for the men to get up at this un-godly hour? The orders were then read. The men were shocked! Disbelief ran through the minds of the assembled personnel. The orders bluntly stated that all men of Japanese ancestry, the Nisei, were immediately dismissed from the Hawaii Territorial Guard!

Short hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the University of Hawaii ROTC had been called to duty. Later that day, they were mobilized into the Hawaii Territorial Guard (HTG) by orders of the Governor of Hawaii. For six weeks these young University students, now soldiers, guarded Installations throughout Honolulu, Then came the bombshell on that early morning hour dismissing them from service; they were booted out merely for being of Japanese ancestry. This was, of course, part of the hysteria that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In describing the humiliation inflicted upon the Nisei, Nolle Smith, former UH sports star and a commanding officer in the HTG, would say 50 years later at a UH banquet honoring the VVV: ‘We all cried when we heard those orders’.

A few days later, some of those discharged from the HTG gathered on the University campus under the shade of a shower tree near University Avenue discussing their plight. Classes were well underway and it was too late for many to return and finish their semester. From across the street in Atherton House, Hung Wai Ching, the YMCA secretary, saw the group. He walked over to talk to these former ex-ROTC cadets and, now, ex-HTG soldiers. In essence, what he told the dejected Nisei was simply that they could continue to feel sorry for themselves or to do something about it.

To read what happened, click here to the link to JAVA web site.

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