Japanese American Units

Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJAs) did not only serve their country in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In Hawaii, they also served in the Varsity Victory Volunteers and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Over 6000 AJAs from Hawaii and the mainland were members of the Military Intelligence Service, but their accomplishments were kept classified for over 30 years. Most were assigned to the Pacific war zone, performing intelligence work to defeat Japan, the country of their ancestors.

Historian Franklin Odo writes of the Varsity Victory Volunteers. Students at the University of Hawaii and members of the ROTC, they were assigned to the Hawaii Territorial Guard after the attack on Pearl Harbor. A month later they were abruptly discharged because of widespread distrust of the Japanese population. Wanting to prove their loyalty, they volunteered as laborers, working alongside a combat engineer regiment. The actions of these 169 men and the stellar performance of the 100th in training were significant factors leading to the formation of the 442nd RCT.

Almost 1000 AJA men served in the 1399 Engineer Construction Battalion. They constructed many major projects and were considered vital to the defense of Hawaii. They are the unsung heroes of the AJAs contributions to the war effort..

Mark Matsunaga, the son of an MIS veteran, writes of the 100th men who were recruited to the intelligence service while they were training at Camp McCoy. Almost all were sent to the Asia-Pacific war zone, but a few were assigned to military facilities on the mainland.

In his essay “The Origins of the 442nd”, Ted Tsukiyama, who was a member of the Varsity Victory Volunteers, 442nd, and MIS, documents the correspondence and decisions among government and military leaders that lead to the formation of what became the segregated 100th Infantry Battalion in May 1942 and nine months later to the formation of another segregated unit, the 442nd RCT.

View the 442nd RCT Organization Chart