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: