Photography and commentary from John Fujimagari

Go For Broke


442nd Regimental Combat Team soldier moving into action in a hilly sector of France, Oct. 24, 1944, Bruyeres, France. Courtesy of the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee and the U.S. Army

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:

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…

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