After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a loyal group of Nisei Japanese Americans wagered everything to enlist in the military and serve their country, the United States. These second-generation Japanese Americans were born in the U.S. shortly after the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. Prior to that date, Japanese-American men who were then classified as 4C (enemy aliens), were prohibited from serving in the military during the onset of World War II.
However, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing military
authorities “to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion.”
Although the order did not refer specifically to people of Japanese ancestry, it set the stage for the internment of people of Japanese descent. In March 1942, Lieutenant General 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 more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast from their homes and their relocation to guarded relocation camps.
The 442nd Infantry Regiment, which consisted of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442d Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service, allowed for over fifteen thousand Japanese American volunteers answered the nation’s call. The men in these units, comprised almost entirely of persons of Japanese ancestry, fought with uncommon bravery and valor against our nation’s enemies on the battlefields in Europe and Asia, even while many of their parents and kin were held in internment camps. As a result, the success of the experimental segregated 100th Infantry Battalion and petitions from Nisei wishing to serve were eventually successful, and the 442nd Infantry Regiment was born.
Due to their actions the during World War II the 442nd Infantry Regiment received over 18,000 individual decorations to include; 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1 Distinguished Service Medal, 559 Silver Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldiers’ Medals and 4,000 Bronze Stars, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 1 Congressional Gold Medal and 9,486 Purple Hearts; Making them the most decorated unit in military history.
On October 5, 2010, President Barrack Obama signed S.1055, a bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.
The Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, will be bestowed, collectively, on the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service for their extraordinary accomplishments in World War II November 2, 2011. Their record demonstrates an abiding faith in the American dream, and provides an indelible testimonial to the meaning of American patriotism.
The commitment and sacrifice of the men and women of the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442d Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service during WWII demonstrates a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor. The United States remains forever indebted to the bravery, valor, and dedication to country these men faced while fighting a 2-fronted battle of discrimination at home and fascism abroad.