Japanese-American World War II veterans to receive Congressional Gold Medal
For the Morning News
BLACKFOOT — Next Wednesday, the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal will be awarded "to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), United States Army, collectively, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II."
The formal award presentation will be made in Washington, D.C.
From Southeast Idaho, surviving members of these vaunted units are Agie Harada, Jun Shiosaki, Hero Shiosaki, Kazuo Endow and Jack Tominaga. As they travel to D.C., many of these men will be accompanied by family members.
For example, 92-year-old Hero Shiosaki will be accompanied by his sons, Cary and Randy. His brother, Jun, age 89, is unable to travel because of health issues.
The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team fought mainly in Europe from 1943-1945.
The 442nd Regimental became the most decorated unit in United States military history for its size and length of service.
The 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team received 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier's Medals and over 4,000 Purple Hearts, among numerous additional distinctions.
The MIS was made up of about 6,000 Japanese-American soldiers who conducted highly classified intelligence operations that approved to be vital to United States military successes in the Pacific Theatre.
As they were discharged from the Army, MIS soldiers were told not to discuss their wartime work, due to its sensitive nature. Their contributions were not known until passage of the Freedom of Information Act in 1974.
The Congressional citation follows the history of the men who formed these units, including the discrimination they faced following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the discrimination they faced following WWII.
As directed by Public Law 111-254, a single gold medal has been designed for these three units, collectively.
Following this presentation, the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be displayed as appropriate and made available for research.
The gold medal will be available for display elsewhere, particularly at other appropriate locations associated with the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service, United States Army.
Craig Uchida, board chairman of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF) said, "The Award of the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese American veterans and the MIS will reaffirm what the Memorial and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 stands for: American patriotism, perseverance, and posterity. These veterans offer an unparalleled legacy bequeathed to the American people. The rights Japanese Americans fought for during and after the war are the rights of all Americans to freedom and to personal justice."