From detained to bloodstained | Darn Wright
Last updated 11/6/2020 at 3:45pm
Nov. 11 is Veterans Day and, with this in mind, let’s go back in time and remember those soldiers who were labeled possible enemy agents, but yet still marched forward and honorably serving the United States.
With pride and honor they wore on their U.S. Army uniforms’ upper left sleeves a hexagon-shaped patch with a thin red and white frame. Then, in the middle of the frame, was the white arm of the Statue of Liberty on a dark-blue background. This insignia notified all that they belonged to the elite 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
These warriors were almost entirely made up of second-generation American Japanese ancestry (Nisei), and as they marched into battle, many of their loved ones were being marched into Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) “relocation centers.”
Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese American men were initially categorized as 4C (enemy alien) and therefore not subject to the draft. On Feb. 19, 1942, FDR signed Executive Order 9066. Although the 9066 order did not specifically refer to individuals of Japanese ancestry, in March 1942 Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, issued the first of 108 military proclamations that resulted in the forced removal of 110,000 people, two-thirds of them being Japanese American, to relocation camps.
Even with their country’s treatment, hundreds of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry volunteered to fight during World War II for their native American country. Beginning in 1944, this disenfranchised regiment fought primarily in Italy, southern France and Germany. They did so even though, more often than not, they were degraded by being addressed with derogatory names by their Army peers.
The 442nd unit's motto was "Go for Broke," and this regiment was activated Feb. 1, 1943, as the Regimental Combat Team, and within four months it quickly grew to become a fighting complement of 4,000 men, and by war’s end it had over 14,000 U.S. combatants.
Today this GO FOR BROKE Regiment is known for its battle courage and for being the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. In less than two years, this unit earned more than 18,000 awards, including 9,486 Purple Hearts and 4,000 Bronze Star Medals. The regiment eventually was awarded eight
In 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to 442nd Regimental Combat Team members who served during World War II, and in 2012 all surviving members were made chevaliers of the French Légion d'Honneur for actions that contributed to the liberation of France, and for their heroic rescue of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Division, AKA “Lost Battalion,” which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains in October 1944.
The 442nd saw heavy combat fighting during World War II, and was not inactivated until 1946, only to be reactivated as a reserve unit in 1947 and garrisoned at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The 442nd lives on through the 100th Battalion/442nd Infantry Regiment, which has maintained an alignment with the active 25th Infantry Division since a reorganization in 1972.
This alignment resulted in the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment being mobilized for combat duty in the Vietnam War and to fight in the Iraq War, in which the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
With the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment being the last infantry unit in the Army Reserve, its current members are proudly carrying on the honors and traditions of their historical unit.
The Go For Broke Regimental Combat Team member Private First Class Sadao Munimori was killed in action when he sacrificed his own life to save the life of his fellow soldiers. By doing so, he posthumously was awarded his country’s highest military honor. He joined the ranks of other World War II warriors who also received the Medal of Honor!
Darn right, over 14,000 Japanese Americans volunteered to be on the fields of battle, and they came from being detained to being bloodstained.