January 5, 2015

123 Nisei Heroes Honored In Victory Parade in Italy

Presidential Unit Citation Is Given to Company L of 
442nd In Ceremonies After V-E Day

WITH THE FIFTH ARMY, Italy—Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., Fifth Army commander, recently flew from his headquarters to Novi, Italy, to review the Victory Parade of the 442nd Japanese American Combat Team, and to decorate one of its units and 123 of its heroes.
     The veteran troops of 2 campaigns stood at attention in massed formation at the Novi Airport as General Truscott arrived.
    He was received by Major General Edward M. Almond, Commanding General of the 92nd "Buffalo" Division, and Colonel Virgil R. Miller, Commanding Officer of the 442nd Combat Team.
     Behind the reviewing officers flew General Truscott'e 3-star red flag and General Almond's 2-star flag. For the first time in the history of the organization, all the jeeps, trucks, anti-tank guns and howitzers, pulled by their prime movers, followed the men and passed in review. Three abreast, with the assistant drivers sitting arms folded before their chests, 102 vehicles, 15 anti-tank guns and 6 Cannon Company howitzers, the motor might of the Combat Team, passed in review.
     In the course of the Awards Ceremony, which was a part of the Victory Parade, 123 individual decorations and 1 Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation were presented.
     In a Divisional Letter of Commendation on the fighting spirit of the Japanese American doughboys, who sparked the Fifth Army's spring offensive up the Ligurian Coast sector, which was read to the troops, General Almond said:
   "The performance by units and by individuals has been a magnificent example of speed,' drive and endurance in combat against an enemy entrenched in most difficult terrain and employing every known device of modern combat.
"The task assigned your regiment was a most difficult one. The endurance, stamina and courage of the individuals of this regiment under these difficult conditions deserve the highest commendation. This has been accorded by the Army Commander, Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., to which I add my sincere thanks and appreciation for your splendid service to the Nation, the United States Army, and, in particular, to the 92nd Infantry Division."
      General Truscott presented 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, two Legion of Merit Medals and 21 Silver Stars. General Almond awarded 94 Bronze Stars and 3 Division Commendations. The occasion held special significance to 1 of the men who was given a Silver Star.
     Corporal George Morishita, Del Ray, Cal., of 3rd Battalion Headquarters, served under General Truscott, then a Colonel, at Camp Bliss, Texas, in 1942. At that time Truscott commanded the "Fighting" 5th Cavalry Regiment of the Ist Cavalry Division.
     "I received a big thrill," Morishita said, "but I was too flabbergasted to call it to his attention when he was giving me the medal."
     Other men of the 442nd Combat Team who served under Truscott at Camp Bliss and fought under him as part of the Fifth Army in crushing all German resistance in Italy are:
Corporal Frank Yano, San Francisco, of the Medical Detachment;
Corporal Yoshio Oshiki, Hawthorne, Cal., of Cannon Company;
Technical Sergeant Makoto Mochizuki, Torrance, Cal., of 3rd Battalion Headquarters; Staff Sergeant Kay K. Kashiwabara, Penryn, Cal., of Company X, who was wounded in action and is now back in the states;
Staff Sgt George Eto, Gardena, Cal., of the 206th Army Ground Force Band of the 442nd (family incarcerated at Poston), and
Sgt Kazuo Kunishige, Reedley, Cal., of Company G (family incarcerated at Poston).

     Both General Truscott and General Almond were happily greeted by the Italians who watched the Victory Parade. Less than a month had passed since they had been liberated by the men under the command of these officers.
     The men and the unit to be decorated were presented by Lieutenant Colonel James M. Hanley of Mandan, N. D., Executive Officer of the 442nd. Colonel Hanley led the troops in the parade.
     General Truscott fastened a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation streamer to Company L's guidon, which was dipped by its bearer, Private First Class George M. Hata of Gresham, Ore.
     First Lieutenant Roger Smith, Monroe County,  Rush, N. Y., Commanding Officer of the company, accepted on behalf of his men. General Truscott pinned the gold- rimmed blue ribbon on Lieutenant Smith. More than 200 men of Company L received the Unit Badge.
     Company L, together with Company F, composed the Task Force O'Connor, which with brilliant conception and execution destroyed a German main line of resistance east of Bruyeres, eastern France, during the 442nd Japanese American Combat Team's drive while attached to the 36th "Texas" Division.
     The Task Force for distinguishing itself in the action, was signally honored by being awarded the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation. Company F was decorated at a 2nd Battalion Ceremony held at Antibes on the French Riviera shortly before the 442nd Combat Team moved to Italy.
     The 2nd Battalion was unable to attend the Victory Parade and Awards Ceremony, as it was on special duty at Cuneo near the France-Italian border, 100 miles away.
     The Fifth Army's commanding general also presented 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2 of them posthumously, for extraordinary Heroism in Action.
       Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi, Company X bazooka man from Waipahu, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, gave his life in aiding the 442nd Combat Team effect the Rescue of the "Lost Battalion" of this war, a 86th Division Unit, in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France.
     Sergeant Larry T. Tanimoto, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, Company I squad sergeant, was killed as he dueled with an enemy machine gun while he walked toward it. By his extraordinary heroism he saved the lives of his wounded scout and the members of his combat patrol, which had been pinned down by the German weapon.
     General Truscott pinned the Distinguished Service Cross on Staff Sergeant Fujio Miyamoto, Honolulu, T. H., squad leader of Company K. Sergeant Miyamoto destroyed an enemy machine gun and killed six snipers in the course of an extremely bitter and dangerous 2-hour fire fight.
     General Truscott also presented Legion of Merit Medals to Lieutenant Colonel James M. Hanley of Mandan, N. D., and to Colonel Virgil R. Miller of Winneconne, Wis.
      Twenty-one officers and enlisted men were presented Silver Stars by the General.
     The Presentation Ceremony was concluded with the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by the 206th Army Ground Forces Band of the 442nd Combat Team.
      The entire unit, men and mechanized units, led by Colonel Hanley, then passed in review before General Truscott, General Almond, Colonel Miller, Colonel James Notestein, Commanding Officer of the 371st Infantry Regiment, and Colonel John Armstrong, Commanding Officer of the 365th Infantry Regiment.
     Led by the 206th Band, the veteran troops marched by the reviewing stand. Then the 442nd jeeps, trucks, anti-tank guns and howitzers followed.
Source: Pacific Citizen June 9, 1945, p.3

Japanese American Anti-Tank Unit Landed from Gliders on D-Day in Southern France

 —As the "tank-killers" that helped pave the way for many an Allied victory, an Anti-Tank Company of the courageous 442nd Japanese-American Infantry Regiment is biding its time in the French Alps along the France – Italian border until it can take another swipe at the enemy.
     Holding defensive positions in the towering Alps along Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers' 6th Army Group front, the Anti-Tank Company could easily rest on its laurels—but it isn't. In some parts of the Vosges Mountains near the German border — where the snow and wooded terrain made tank warfare impossible—its men were pressed into service as litterbearers, ammunition and supply carriers, and even as front-line infantrymen.
     A similar situation exists in the French Alps, where these self-styled "tank-killers" are contributing greatly in hazardous mountain warfare.
     After the successful drive northward in Italy, the company was attached to an Airborne Taskforce for the invasion of Southern France. On D-day it was towed over the coast of France in two teams of 18 and 26 gliders, and released. Despite an unexpected dispersal of gliders in the landings, the first guns were placed ready for action in less than an hour. For two days it held its position until it was relieved by the Seaborne Divisions which pushed inland and made contact.
     Every member of the Anti-Tank Company wears the Combat Infantryman's Badge for exemplary conduct under enemy fire and the Glider Badge for action as Gliderborne
      Members of the Anti-Tank Company include the following:
Poston Relocation Center:
Pfc. Yoshio Hamada, 28-11-D
Pfc. Hiroshi Takeda, 42-4-D
Sgt. Matauo Kobayashi, 39-9-C
Pvt. Yoshio Shiotani, 37-3-B
S/Sgt. David K. Ogawa, 222-6-A
Pfc Saburo J. Mochizuki, 3-6-B
Pfc. Nobukazu W. Kuwada,308-12-D
Pfc. Albert T. Kizuka, 19-4-A
T/Sgt. Hisaji B. Hamamoto, 19-11-D
Pfc. Tetsu J. Uyechi, 54-7-B

Source: Pacific Citizen, Saturday, March 10, 1945, page 6

January 2, 2015


The Tournament of Roses Parade dates back to 1890, and is held in Pasadena, California on New Year's Day.  The parade route is 5.5 miles long and televised nationally. 

The City of Alhambra with Mayor Gary Yamauchi, sponsored the 2015 Tournament of Roses parade float, "Go for Broke,"honoring the Japanese American WW II veterans. The Japanese American combat units served under non-Japanese American officers, and included those who enlisted from the U.S. concentration camps. They earned the reputation for hard fighting and for refusing to give up, no matter how devastating the enemy fire. This determination was used by the Nisei soldiers’ term, “Go for Broke!" 

The number of Medal of Honor recipients from the 442nd RCT was extraordinary for a unit of its size, a testament to the bravery of its members. There were five Nisei veterans who were selected to ride on the parade float.  They were picked from a large number of living Japanese American veterans whose families submitted applications to the Go For Broke National Education Center Committee. 

  The five nisei WW II veterans selected to ride on the parade float were: Roy Fujiwara, 96, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of Honolulu, HI; Dr. Susumu "Sus" Ito, 95, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of Boston, MA; Yoshio "Yosh" Nakamura, 89, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of Whittier, CA; Masao "Mas" Takahashi, 90, 100th Infantry Battalion, of Torrance, CA; and Tokuji "Toke" Yoshihashi, 91, 100th Infantry Battalion of Alhambra, CA.

The parade float was 41 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 16 feet tall, featured a floral design of the Go For Broke Monument, located in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. 
The parade float also featured a special portrait tribute to the 21 Japanese American soldiers who received the Medal of Honor for their actions during WW II. The portrait  renditions were made from flowers and other natural plant parts, as part of the requirements for all Tournament of Roses parade float entries. 
The parade float proudly had a floral replica of the Nisei Soldiers of WW II Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.  It was awarded collectively to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service of the U.S. Army in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. Their commitment and sacrifice—in the face of a two-fronted battle against discrimination at home and fascism abroad—demonstrated a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor.

Photo credits:  Chris Brusatte of the Go For Broke National Education Center