11.02.11

Go for Broke Regiments Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Washington, DC– Today, the U.S. Army 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, commonly known as the “Go For Broke” regiments, was awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal. The highly-decorated Japanese-American World War II Veterans received this special recognition as a result of the President signing into law companion legislation to a bill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced in the House on Oct. 5, 2010.  The legislation pays tribute to the “Go For Broke” regiments, as well as the Military Intelligence Service, comprised of Japanese-American troops who fought in Europe and the Asia-Pacific theatre during WWII.

“It was a thrill to stand next to the brave Japanese-American members of the ‘Go For Broke’ regiments and the veterans of the Military Intelligence Service today as they were awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for their dedication to our country during World War II,” Rep. Schiff said, lead sponsor of the legislation in the House and son of a WWII veteran.  “These remarkable men left a segregated nation to fight and defend an America with no guarantee that their own freedom would be defended in return.  These American heroes did defend our freedoms and ideals.  Their true heroism lies in how they fought for the values of America – equality, justice, and opportunity – even when those values were denied them at home.  And they paved the way for millions of other Americans to proudly wear the uniform today.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ highest civilian honor and requires two-thirds of the House and the Senate to cosponsor the legislation before it can be voted on. The elite medal has been given selectively since 1776, when George Washington was awarded the first, and other honorees include Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Rosa Parks and the Dalai Lama. The legislation originated in the House (H.R. 347) and passed in 2009 with nearly 300 cosponsors.

“On behalf of all our veterans, I want to thank Congressman Adam Schiff for his help, and for being such a loyal and faithful supporter,” said Gary Yamauchi, a member of the Board of Directors for the Go For Broke National Education Center. “Our veterans will never forget this day; we are extremely delighted and in our own quiet way, we are very, very proud.”

The Go For Broke regiments earned several awards for their distinctive service in combat, including: 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars and over 4,000 Purple Hearts, among numerous additional distinctions. For their size and length of service, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were the most decorated U.S. military units of the war. However, these regiments have yet to be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Full remarks from Rep. Schiff at the ceremony to follow:

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we award the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor to the “Go For Broke” regiments and the veterans of the Military Intelligence Service for their dedication to our country during World War II.

            “These remarkable men left a segregated nation to fight and defend an America with no guarantee that their own freedom would be defended in return. 

            “There are no words more eloquent, more revealing of what these men endured and the legacy they left behind, than their own words, words like these:

            “‘On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 . . .  That was the blackest moment of my life – being treated as an enemy alien."  Grant Ichikawa, veteran of the MIS.’

“‘I wanted to prove that I was a loyal American and wanted to fight for my country during a time of war."  Joe Ichiuji, veteran of the 442nd (deceased).’

“‘Here I was a Corporal, in a U.S. Army Uniform, not allowed to visit my family in the internment camp."  Jimmie Kanaya, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.’

“‘I felt that we had to fight, and to go forward.  I was scared going up to the lines, and thought to myself, 'Well, this is it.'  . . .  After we were hit, I became so engaged in what we were doing that despite the shells, mortars, and machine gun fire coming in, I was no longer scared.  I was too busy, and in combat, you learn to obey orders and push forward."  Kelly Kuwayama, medic, 442nd.’

“‘This [Japanese] prisoner was brought in to us on a stretcher after he was wounded. . . . And when I inquired how his treatment was, he looked me in the eye and said, 'You are a traitor.'  'Traitor?' I said.  'You can see that I am an American.  I'm an American soldier fighting for my country.  You are Japanese – a loyal Japanese soldier fighting for your country.  If you were to cut our veins, the same blood would flow.  But don't you call me a traitor.'"  Grant Hirabayashi, veteran, Military Intelligence Service.’

            “‘I told the others to watch out for the incoming fire, when one of my buddies stood up and got shot.  I crawled over and picked him up, and he died in my arms.  I just lost it then, and picked up the Thompson and charged the hill."  George Joe Sakato, veteran of the 442nd, Medal of Honor recipient.’ 

            “‘There have been 35 Japanese Americans promoted to the rank of general and admiral since Vietnam – a remarkable record when compared to World War II when the highest rank held by a Japanese American was that of major.  This demonstrates the greatness of America – a nation that recognized it had made mistakes, corrected them, and moved on to become a stronger country.  And we are proud to defend the freedoms and ideals that this country represents."  Terry Shima, veteran of the 442nd.’

            “These American heroes did defend our freedoms and ideals.  Their true heroism lies in how they fought for the values of America – equality, justice, and opportunity – even when those values were denied them at home.  And they paved the way for millions of other Americans to proudly wear the uniform today. 

            “Members of the 442nd, 100th and MIS, it is an honor to be in the same room with you.  Thank you, and congratulations.”       


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