Wednesday, August 27, 2008

442nd Regimental Combat Team

This is also posted at the entrance to Manzanar.

The motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was “go for broke.” It’s a gambling term that means risking everything on one great effort to win big. The soldiers of the 442nd needed to win big. They were Nisei - American-born sons of Japanese immigrants. They fought two wars: the Germans in Europe and the prejudice in America.

The regiment consisted of two groups of Japanese, the "Buddhaheads" from Hawaii and the "Katonks" from the mainland.  In the beginning the two groups didn't get along because the "Buddhaheads" never realized how the "Katonks" families were imprisoned in the camps.  Military high command were almost considering disbandoning the 442nd because they didn't think they could fight overseas as a unit.  So the Army decided to send a group of Buddhaheads to visit the camps in Arkansas.  After seeing the camps, Camp Jerome and Camp Rowher, with all the barber wire, guard towers and machine guns, the Buddhaheads understood.  As word got around about the camps the Buddhaheads gained a whole new respect for the Katonks.  From that time on they became united-like a clenched fist.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated unit for it's size and length of service, in the entire history of the U.S. Military.  They earned 9,486 purple hearts, 21 Medals of Honor and an unprecedented eight Presidential Unit Citations.

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