Author: General W. B. Rosson
Puka Puka Parades, November- December 1972
27th Annual Memorial Speech given by General W. B. Rosson. He speaks about hearing and seeing the 100th fight in WWII and their many accomplishments after
On September 24, 19 72, the 29th anniversary of the first l00th Battalion casualty, Club 100 (under the chairmanship of Stu Tsubota) held its 27th Annual Memorial Service at Punchbowl Crater.
Keynote speaker, General W.B. Rosson, Commander in Chief, U.S. Army of the Pacific, delivered a glowing report of the accomplishments of the men of the l00th Battalion–both wartime and post war accomplishments. Following is the text of the speech Rosson delivered to the crowd at Punchbowl that Sunday.
As my division made its way inland from the beaches near Salerno, Italy, 29 years ago this month, word came to us of a remarkable infantry unit that had received its baptism of fire in the Salerno area. Although I was unaware of its size and numerical designation at the time, I recall rumors that the outfit was composed entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry who displayed an almost fanatical determination to excel.
As the weeks unfolded, I was to hear much more of the l00th Infantry Battalion–of its heroism at the Rapido River and at Cassino. Later, I was teamed with the Battalion at Anzio, and was afforded opportunity to verify at first hand what I had heard. Still later I was to be a neighbor of the l00th near Bruyeres in France. All of this enables me to preface my remarks this morning with a personal tribute to the gallantry, unyielding discipline, inspiring patriotism and brilliant combat record of an organization that enjoys unique recognition in our military annals– an organization born of misunderstanding, nurtured by devotion to an ideal and remembered for service above and beyond the call of duty.
Consider if you will that on three occasions this unit was cited by the President of United States; that its members earned 4,340 individual awards. What a magnificent testimonial to the dedication, bravery and competence of these officers and men–both the living and those at rest.
The 100th Battalion’s baptism of fire at Salerno found Sergeant Joe Takata of Waialua at the cutting edge of our thrust against the German forces seeking to destroy the allied beachhead. His was a role the battalion was to play repeatedly from then ’till war’s end. His death by machine gunfire that September day in 1943 memorialized him as the first member of the 100th to give his life for the values and convictions dearest to him. To Sgt. Takata and all of his fallen comrades we render this day our reverent gratitude and respect.
DOUBLE CHALLENGE FOR 100th
For you of the 100th, World War II brought a double challenge:
On the one hand, you were called upon to manifest unstinting loyalty to a country that questioned your loyalty.
On the other, yours was the mission of demonstrating not only that you were Americans first, last and always, but Americans endowed with uncommon dedication.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, you were confronted the need to defend your honor.
You met the challenge.
You upheld your honor.
You brought honor to our country.
You confirmed the faith of those who had argued for and those who had approved the formation of your unit.
These attainments alone would accord the officers and men of the 100th Battalion a place of prominence in history. But our tribute would be incomplete were we not to address the heritage the Battalion bequeathed to us.
‘FOR CONTINUING SERVICE’
It is through the 100th’s motto that we gain insight into this heritage. The three words of that motto read: “For Continuing Service.” Through these words the Battalion tells us that service in support of cherished ideals did not terminate with the end of World War II. Rather, it has been and is being perpetuated in a variety of ways.
Americans of Japanese ancestry, including members of the l00th, have served with distinction in our two major armed conflicts since World War II. They knew well the meaning and value of freedom and human dignity. As part of the heritage bequeathed by the Battalion they recognized that liberty and justice are blessings that can be preserved only through sacrifice. Accordingly, they moved to the front rank of those prepared to pay the price of freedom—knowing that without willingness to do so there would be no freedom to preserve.
Within the community at large the heritage of the Battalion is a dynamic reality manifested by the constructive role its members and admirers have played and are playing in building a better state–a better nation. It is well recognized, for example, that the incomparable record of the l00th instilled within all Americans of Japanese ancestry a new sense of pride and identity, a desire to participate fully in the social, economic and political activities of the community and a well-defined zeal for accomplishment.
On the reverse side of the coin, the same society that had withheld its trust during the war years, but upon whom the l00th Battalion’s manifestation of loyal, valorous service had not gone unheeded, made it clear that it, too, desired this development. The results are evident to all. Today we find past and present members of the Battalion, plus many who have been inspired by the sacrifices of those we memorialize at this hour, occupying positions of responsibility, trust and leadership in all walks of life at social, state and national levels. Through them, to include in particular those I address at this moment, we see the motto, “For Continuing Service,” translated into reality. In them we find promise for perpetuation of the ideals in which they believe and for which so many of them gave their lives–and, let us remember always, theirs are the ideals upon which the security and well-being of our country and its citizens of all backgrounds and persuasions are founded. Again, to the l00th Infantry Battalion and those of its number who rest in honor and glory, our humble tribute, gratitude, and salute.