December 11, 2010

Wyden Honors Japanese-American “Go for Broke” Soldiers Who Served in World War II

Portland, OR – Declaring it an honor long overdue, Senator Ron Wyden today paid tribute to 16 Oregon Japanese-American veterans who served with distinction in Europe and in the Pacific during World War II.

Wyden presented each of the soldiers with framed copies of legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President this year awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and members of the Military Intelligence Service for their dedicated service.

“We can’t escape the irony of what happened in those early days of World War II,” Wyden said. “At a time when the United States government rounded up their families and sent them to concentration camps, these men fought bravely and valiantly for the United States.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor our nation can bestow,” Wyden said. “It is a fitting tribute to these outstanding men not just for their service during war time, but for their contributions to changing American culture and ending discrimination against Japanese-Americans. This is not just about the battles they have won, but the freedoms they have secured at home as well as abroad. It is about the hope they brought to people all around the globe.”

The 16 Japanese-American veterans and their families joined Wyden at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in northwest Portland, which just opened a new exhibit on the treatment of Japanese-Americans in the days and weeks following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

While serving in Italy, southern France, and Germany, the 442nd earned the motto the “Go for Broke” regiment and became the most highly decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history, including 9,486 Purple Hearts and 21 Medals of Honor.

The Japanese-Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service operated in small groups attached to combat units in the war against Japan. They served America and the allied forces as interpreters from the island of Attu in the Aleutians to Guadacanal in the South Pacific and eventually in the decisive victories at Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

(Photo caption: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden presents a copy of legislation honoring the Japanese American veterans of World War II to Edward Fujii of Portland. Fujii was one of 16 Oregon veterans of the renowned “Go for Broke” regiment and the Military Intelligence Service that served in Europe and the Pacific.)