President Truman walking past members of the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team as they stand at attention on the Ellipse., 15 July 1946

Photograph of President Truman walking past members of the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team as they stand at attention on the Ellipse., 15 July 1946, Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer (NARA record: 8451352

Distinguished service. This is the word with which the US military describes many enlistees of the 100th Orphan Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. But to do this would be similar to describing the Pacific as surmountable, for the members of the 100th and the 442nd are some of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, and for good reason. Both of these units fought some of the bloodiest battles of the war and have the Purple Hearts to show for it. Often invited to take the most difficult ground at tremendous cost, the men of these units had a price to pay and they should rightfully have their story told. Merely a synopsis of the actions in which these units have performed is not sufficient, however, as the soldiers of the 100th and the 442nd were poorly managed throughout the war, and endured harsh conditions other than solely in the heat of battle, for these men were second generation Japanese American soldiers – Nisei – who fought under Caucasians for Caucasian goals and yet fought perhaps better and harder than those above them. This is their story.

Content

  • The 442nd Regimental Combat Team “Go For Broke” - On February 23, 1942, Japanese American students on Hawaii were allowed to form the VVV (Varsity Victory Volunteers), which was intended to be a military unit under the US Army by its members. However, the unit was merely attached to the US Army Corps of Engineers and quickly became a manual labor unit. The Japanese […]
  • The 100th [Orphan] Infantry Battalion “Remember Pearl Harbor” - The 100th Battalion was originally formed up as the Hawaii Provisional Infantry Battalion and was made up of Japanese-American draftees from the island. The men were shipped surreptitiously on three separate trains – to avoid publicity: one through Texas, one through Nebraska, and one through North Dakota. On June 16, 1942 the trains arrived at […]
  • 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion “The Chowhounds” - The only all-Japanese American unit to serve in the Pacific Theatre during World War II was the 1399th Construction Battalion. The Chowhounds completed more than fifty-four major defense related projects during the war including the Flying Fortress airfield at Oahu and a million gallon water tank at Wahiawa still in service. When General Douglas MacArthur […]
  • Military Intelligence Service - Although the 100th and the 442nd were certainly the most famous US units made up of Japanese-Americans, the part that Japanese Americans played in the Military Intelligence service perhaps proved the loyalty of the nisei more than any other unit. For the Military Intelligence Service, established on November 1, 1941, was used to gain information […]
  • Conclusion - When reading this or any document that has recorded the history of the Nisei in World War II, it becomes easy to believe that the exploits completed by these units are just as astonishing as any other military outfits but this conclusion would be incorrect. These individuals may have been equal to any other soldier […]
  • Sources and Links - Duus, Masayo Umezawa. “Unlikely Liberators.” University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu; 1983. Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board. “Japanese Eyes, American Heart.” Tendai Educational Foundation, Honolulu; 1998. Interview with former member of 100th Inf Bataillon. Online Ressources The 442nd RCT has its own website dedicated to the veterans, their service, and the units history The website of the […]