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 "Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all one color.  America stands unique in the world, the only country not founded on race, but on a way--an ideal."
(General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell upon presenting a posthumous award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Mary Masuda, sister of Staff Sergeant Kazuo Masuda.)

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"Retiring The Colors"

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The Long Road Home


The last, victorious campaign of the 100th/442nd was a beautiful example of the teamwork and espirit de corps that existed in the Nisei unit.  Unfortunately, not all members of the team were present to participate.  In Germany the Teams 522d Field Artillery Battalion was still "on loan" to other units.  The closing days of the war would provide the unit one of their most haunting engagements of the war.

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Many of the young soldiers of the 522d Field Artillery Battalion had come to the 442nd after enlisting at relocation camps in the Western United States.  Many Japanese-Americans who then populated the camps, as indeed do many even today, disliked the term "Relocation Camp".  The hastily constructed facilities were laid out in a militaristic fashion with spartan surroundings.  Around the camp was barbed wire and gun towers.  While the government exercised great caution in censorship of the photographs taken of the camps, occasionally an embarrassing photo surfaced.  Every effort had been expended to screen out photos that showed the Japanese interred there in the presence of army guards.   But the fact remained, and a few uncensored photos proved, that these American citizens were indeed under armed guard.  For all practical intents and purposes, these relocation camps were actually America's version of Concentration Camps.

9_dachau.jpg (15038 bytes)As the Allied advance moved swiftly into the heart of Germany, the soldiers of the 522d once again saw similar facilities, spartan camps laid out in military fashion and surrounded by barbed wire and gun towers.    The Nisei were among the first to enter the gates of the Dachau concentration camp where some of the most grotesque and inhumane medical experiments of the war were performed on living human beings...most of them Jewish.  The liberation of Dachau provided a picture most of the Nisei would never forget, one that haunted them in their dreams.  Under orders not to share supplies as the war was still in progress, the Nisei could not ignore the pleas of the human skeletons that paraded thankfully before them.  As the Nisei handed out food from their own packs, sympathetic officers looked the other way.  Sometimes, the heart demanded that one ignore orders and do what is right.  Sadly, too many German soldiers had never learned this lesson, and the horrors of Dachau provided ample proof to attest to this fact.

For the 522d's Central Europe Campaign from March 22 to May 11, 1945, the 552d Field Artillery Battalion added yet another Presidential Unit Citation to the incredible record of the 442d Regimental Combat Team.  Shortly after the liberation of Dachau, the unit returned to Italy to join the rest of their team.

Over the next fourteen months the 442nd remained in Italy to direct much of the post-war effort.  Many of their duties after the May 9, 1945 German surrender was the guarding of prisoners of war.  Immediately after the war ended, nearly 200 combat veterans of the 100th/442d (including 4 officers), volunteered for the MIS (now called MISLS - Military Intelligence Service Language School) in order to serve in the Pacific.  Before the summer came to an end however, the Japanese surrendered.  With the historic signing aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor on September 2, 1945, all World War II hostilities had terminated.

Without battles to wage, the focus of the Nisei unit changed.  During the training phases for both the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442d RCT in the days before combat, the Nisei units had stood out for their military professionalism, pride, and military bearing.  Now, in the months before the expected return home, the unit turned once again to close-order drills, spit-shines, starch, and inspections.  In the early months of 1946, the emphasis increased to an even greater pitch.  Not only was the 442d Regimental Combat Team going home, they were to be the ONLY returning military unit to date to be received by the President of the United States.

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On July 16, 1946 the proud Nisei of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442d Regimental combat team marched proudly down Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC.  It was a festive day, more than 10,000 citizens braving the rain to watch the return of the most decorated unit of World War II, perhaps the most decorated in American military history. 

Dignitaries and military officials abounded.   The War Department and other Federal agencies gave employees special time off to witness the return of the Nisei.  The proud "Go For Broke" regiment marched up Constitution to the White House lawn where they met their Commander in Chief.  As the proud young soldiers stood rigidly at attention, the President removed his hat and placed it over his heart as he passed in review.  Then he presented the unit with its SEVENTH Presidential Unit Citation.  As he looked out over the proud, young faces of the Japanese-American soldiers, he spoke proudly of their service.

"You fought for the free nations of the world.

"You fought not only the enemy, you fought prejudice--and you won.

"Keep up that fight...continue to win--make this great Republic stand for what the Constitution says it stands for: 'the welfare of all the people, all the time.'"

President Harry S Truman
July 15, 1945

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Following the heraldic reception in our Nation's Capitol, veterans of the 100th/442d began returning home.  In August the 442d Regimental Combat Team was demobilized and inactivated.  The lineage and honors have been preserved by the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry (U.S. Army Reserve).





"If we the living, the beneficiaries of their sacrifices are truly intent upon showing our gratitude, we must do more than gather together for speechmaking and perfunctory ceremonies.  We must undertake to carry on the unfinished work which they so nobly advanced.  The fight against prejudice is not confined to the battlefield alone.  It is here and with us now.   So long as a single member of our citizenry is denied the use of public facilities and denied the right to earn a decent living because, and solely because of the color of his skin, we who 'fought against prejudice and won' ought not sit idly by and tolerate the perpetuation of injustices."

Senator Spark M. Matsunaga
(A Purple Heart Veteran of the Purple Heart Bn.)






Awards and Decorations
100th Infantry Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team

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Service Cross
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Silver Star
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Bronze Star
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Purple Heart
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Presidential Unit Citation
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NAPLES-FOGGIA (9 September, 1943 - 21 January, 1944)

ANZIO (26 March to 2 June, 1944)

ROME-ARNO RIVER (22 January to 4 September, 1944)

SOUTHERN FRANCE (15 August to 14 September, 1944) 442d Anti-Tank Co.

NORTHERN APENNINES (10 September, 1944 to 4 April, 1945

RHINELAND (15 September, 1944 to 21 March, 1945

CENTRAL EUROPE (15 March to 11 May, 1945)  552d Field Artillery Battalion

PO VALLEY (5 April to 8 May, 1945)


Even as World War II was drawing to a close, a group of freshly trained young Nisei was enroute as replacements for the 100th/442nd.  The troop transport carrying the eager young soldiers to Italy was five days from shore when word arrived that the war was over.  Among the new arrivals was a young Nisei from Gallup, New Mexico....Private Hiroshi H. Miyamura.

Young "Hershey", as we was called, served with the 100th/442nd during their post-war year in Italy, then returned to the United States with his victorious unit, never having seen combat.  But the torch of liberty, together with a proud heritage, had been passed to a new generation of Japanese-Americans.   Seven years later Hershey returned to battle on foreign shores, this time in Korea.   There he fought with the same courage and determination that marked his brothers of World War II.  In Korea, Hiroshi H. Miyamura became the second Japanese-American to receive the Medal of Honor, and until the DSCs of the World War II Nisei were upgraded on June 21, 2000, he was the only living Japanese-American Medal of Honor recipient.


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[Introduction] [Purple Heart Battalion]  [Go For Broke]
[Monte Cassino] [Anzio] [Reunion] [The Vosges Mountains]
[The Lost Battalion] [Champagne Campaign]  [Final Victory]
[War in the Pacific] [Retiring The Colors]
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Click on the button at left to reach our 10-page historical series about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the 15 men who earned Medals of Honor that day.

The pages from this web story are NOW AVAILABLE as an attractive, illustrated book from American Legacy Media.

Includes these pages, MOH Citations, ALL 100/442 DSC Citations & Roster of KIAs

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