Go For Broke
My Remembrance Day experience is different from many people’s. None of my immediate family were involved in the war or the military. The closest is my Mom’s cousin Makio “Mickey” Akiyama. He was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a fighting unit composed of almost entirely American soldiers of Japanese ancestry, who were sent to battle in Europe. The Japanese-Americans soldiers were not allowed in the Pacific theatre even though American soldiers of German or Italian descent had no proscription imposed on fighting in Europe. My Uncle Mickey participated in the rescue of the “Lost Battalion”.
The Regiment was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare. The 4,000 men who initially came in April 1943 had to be replaced nearly 2.5 times. In total, about 14,000 men served, earning 9,486 Purple Hearts. The unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations (5 earned in one month). Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor. Members of the 442nd received 18,143 awards, including:
- 21 Medals of Honor
- 52 Distinguished Service Cross (including 19 Distinguished Service Crosses which were upgraded to Medals of Honor in June 2000
- 1 Distinguished Service Medal
- 560 Silver Stars (plus 28 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award)
- 22 Legion of Merit Medals
- 15 Soldier’s Medals
- 4,000 Bronze Stars (plus 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award; one Bronze Star was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in June 2000. One Bronze Star was upgraded to a Silver Star in September 2009.)
- 9,486 Purple Hearts
Remember, all of this was done fighting for a country that had already imprisoned family and friends living on the mainland. The Unit’s motto was “Go For Broke”, something that I think was well represented.
In the best light…