Puka Puka Parades, June 2007
Article from Army and Navy publication where the military acknowledged that the 100th proved their loyalty during the war
From a cautious experiment the Army had received an unexpectedly rich reward. A group of sinewy oriental soldiers, only one generation removed from a nation that was fighting fanatically against the U.S., was fighting just as fanatically for it. Last week, the War Department wrote “proved” on the experiment. It added a unit citation (for outstanding performance of duty in action”) to the already remarkable collection of medals held by the Japanese-American 100th Battalion.
For almost two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, young Japanese-American soldiers trained hard and all but unnoticed at a camp in the U.S. Then the news began to spread – they looked so good that the War Department began to recruit more from Hawaii.
The first group soon got a real test. Formed up as the 100th Infantry Battalion, they were sent to North Africa, attached to the 34th Division. To keep them a racial unit the War Department sent along 500 reserve Nisei to augment the 100th’s normal battalion strength of 800. The reserves were soon needed.
Coming Through. From the day of their first action – the 100th had one tough fight after another. The stocky brown-skinned boys, with their curious Hawaiian English, showed themselves good shots, doggedly resistant in combat.
Fifteen enlisted men won battlefield promotions. After Cassino, where they had spearheaded the crossing of the Rapido River and had clung to a corner of the town for many days, their combat strength was down to 120 men.
In the action at Belvedere, for which the 100th was officially cited, the divisional commander had to commit the battalion sooner than expected, to outflank a tough German position. With little artillery support, the Nisei cut behind the position of some 500 Germans, knocked it to pieces, killed, wounded and captured 271 Germans.
After the capture of Rome, the 100th was joined by its recently trained counterpart, the 442nd Combat Team, also Japanese-Americans. Both units are exceptionally popular in the Fifth Army, have a wonderful knack for organizing little comforts, cooking up tasty un-Army dishes.
More recently the Japanese-Americans have seen action at San Luce and Postina. Last week, their versatility was further recognized. They had pitched in with the Engineers to help rebuild the post of Leghorn. Said their commander, Major General Charles W. Ryder: they’re the best troops in the Division.