For their heroics during World War II, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team combined with the 100th Battalion earned thousands of awards, becoming the most decorated unit of its size and time of service in US military history.
“When young Japanese-American men volunteered enthusiastically, some Americans were puzzled. But those who volunteered knew why. Their own country had dared to question their patriotism, and they would not rest until they had proved their loyalty.” — President Bill Clinton, presenting men of the 442nd with the Congressional Medal of Honor, on June 21, 2000
In less than two years of combat, the celebrated Nisei unit received 21 Medals of Honor, more than 4,000 Purple Hearts, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars and more than 4,000 Bronze Stars.
President Harry Truman lauded the 442nd after they returned to the United States, with these famous remarks made on July 15, 1946:
“I think it was my predecessor who said that Americanism is not a matter of race or creed, it is a matter of the heart…You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice — and you have won. Keep up that fight, and we will continue to win — to make this great Republic stand for just what the Constitution says it stands for: the welfare of all the people all the time.”
Truman then ordered the regimental colors to be brought forward and honored the 442nd with its 7th presidential unit citation.
After arriving back in Hawaii on August 9, 1946, aboard the Liberty Ship SS Waterbury Victory, members of the 442nd received a welcome home ceremony at Iolani Palace. In his speech, Hawaii Gov. Ingram Stainback told the men they not only fought and overcame Nazis, but "fought victoriously at home in the battle against prejudice, distrust and intolerance. To you we truly owe a debt of great gratitude.”
Despite such public accolades, the Japanese American soldiers nevertheless faced continued racial hostility upon their return to Hawaii. Their tactic to deal with such discrimination was to engage in a non-violent revolution to put veterans in public office and get involved politically.
Truman Reviews Nisei Troops 1946 Historic HD Footage
Events (July 1946 – Aug 1946)
President Truman presents Presidential Unit Citation to 442nd RCT: “You fought not only the enemy, you fought prejudice, and you won. Keep up that fight…”.
Welcome Home ceremony at Iolani Palace for 442nd RCT veterans arrived on Liberty Ship SS Waterbury Victory; welcome speech by Gov. Ingram Stainback.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF:
U. S. Army Signal Corps
U. S. Army Signal Corps