The Congressional Gold Medal

Tuesday November 1, 2011

What is it?

The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award awarded by the United States Congress, will be awarded to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (44nd RCT), and Military Intelligence Service (MIS), U.S. Army, for their dedicated service in World War II by the United States Congress on Nov. 2, 2011. The 100th INF BN, and, later, the 442d RCT, were segregated Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) units whose Soldiers fought with exceptional patriotism and valor as many of their family members were held in internment camps at home. Over 6,000 Nisei served in the Military Intelligence Service throughout WWII, performing secret intelligence work against the Japanese military.

Awarded since the American Revolution, the Congressional Gold Medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event, and is Congress' highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions to our Nation. Although the first recipients included veterans of the American Revolution, War of 1812, and Mexican American War, Congress has since broadened eligibility to include humanitarians, public servants, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, authors, entertainers, athletes and foreign recipients.

What has the Army done?

Army recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal Medal throughout the past century include Maj. Walter Reed (1929); Gen. George C. Marshall (1946); Gen. John J. Pershing (1946); Gen. Douglas MacArthur (1962); Maj. Gen. Matthew Bunker Ridgway (1990); Gen. Colin Powell (1991); Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (1991), and the Women Air Force Service Pilots of WWII ('WASP') (2009).

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future?

On Nov. 1, 2011, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno will present over 35 Bronze Star Medals to members of the 100th INF BN, 442nd RCT and MIS (or their representatives) for personal acts of bravery in combat during WWII. This ceremony will be one of three dedicated to honoring these exceptional men and women.

Why is this important to the Army?

Through their bravery on the battlefield and unyielding commitment to our nation "even when not fully returned" these Soldiers provided an indelible testimony to the meaning of American patriotism. They helped pave the way for future efforts to desegregate our Army, and the evolution of what is now our Army's long-standing tradition as a leader in embracing the strengths of our diverse people, and our commitment to being an adaptive, culturally astute force.

The Army and nation remain forever indebted to these Soldiers and their families for their selfless service and sacrifice, and demonstration that the men and women of our U.S. Army have truly been and continue to be the Strength of our Nation.


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Senior Leaders are Saying

"I can't imagine what he would think today, understanding what I have achieved in that the grandson of an Italian immigrant can be chief of staff of the United States Army. That's why this country is so great."

- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, speaking about his family and the meaning of serving America in uniform, at the National Italian American Foundation's military appreciation dinner at the National Archives in Washington D.C., Oct. 27, 2011

Odierno, son receive Italian foundation award

What They're Saying

"We were initially labeled enemy-aliens and many of us volunteered to fight for the U.S. Army and we offered our lives to prove we are loyal American citizens."

- Grant Ichikawa, one of the 6,000 Nisei or second-generation Japanese Americans, who served during World War II, in the Military Intelligence Service, performing secret intelligence work against the Japanese military, an enemy with whom they shared a similar ancestral background.

442nd legacy takes Soldiers from 'enemy aliens' to heroes


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