By Christina Douglas, 9th Mission Support CommandApril 4, 2011
HONOLULU -- Sixty-eight years has passed since the day when thousands of Japanese-American volunteers in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team gathered at Iolani Palace in Honolulu before being shipped off to World War II.
On March 28, 35 of the same veterans stood side-by-side with U.S. Army Reservists from the 9th Mission Support Command's 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, at Iolani Palace, to recreate this historic scene, nearly seven decades later.
The veterans were part of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. At the beginning of the war with Japan, their loyalty and credibility were questioned. Yet after the bloody battles that characterized their wartime service, these Soldiers became part of the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.
Now, 13,000 Nisei veterans are slated to receive what will likely be their final commendation: the Congressional Gold Medal. This prestigious honor is the highest possible civilian award. It will be presented to the three units; the 100th Inf. Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service. The ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C. Because many of the aging veterans will not be able to attend, a Hawaii celebration will be held Dec. 17.
"We want to honor the veterans with our family, friends, and the community," said retired Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, a Hawaii member of the Congressional Gold Medal committee and the former Hawaii Adjutant General. "The veterans came home and lived their lives with the same dignity and dedication they showed in battle. Our community has been inspired by their support."
Lee said that the unit's "Go for Broke" spirit still lives on in today's ranks.
"The Soldiers serving today are absolutely proud to be a part of the history and tradition of the 100th/ 442nd. You can be sure that your legacy remains in the U.S. Army today as evident by the Soldiers standing behind you."
Staff Sgt. Anthony Livernois, the senior mechanic with the 740th Combat Support Company, 100th Bn., said that it is extremely humbling to be a part of such a historic organization.
"I only hope that we can continue to honor our predecessors and bring credit upon what they have done and all they have sacrificed," he said.
Livernois is one of many current 100th Bn. Soldiers who continue to honor the veterans by actively participating in community events to recognize the veterans' selfless service.
"Every day that we have the opportunity to be with them is a privilege," said Lt. Col. Kimo Dunn, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment commander. "They are living legends. We see what these veterans have done for our community, state and country as a whole. The part that really hits home is that legacy of service and patriotism to our country. We're just so privileged to be a part of it."
The Congressional Gold Medal Hawaii committee has planned to hold a parade in Waikiki, Dec. 17, followed by a banquet at the Honolulu Convention Center.
As for the current Soldiers of the 100th, Dunn said they are sure to be there to honor the veterans and continue to carry on the "Go for Broke" legacy.