They Went For Broke

Former members of the historic 442nd, 100th and MIS just received the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C., recognizing their heroism and sacrifice in World War II. From left: Charles Ijima, Kenneth Higa, Mitsuo Hamasu, Glenn Masunaga, James Oura, Herbert Yanamura, Tadashi Fukumoto and Robert Arakaki

Steve Murray
Wednesday - December 07, 2011
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
E-mail this story | Print this page | Archive | RSS |
Mitsuo Hamasu, 100th
James Oura, 442nd

Japanese emperor for his work with Japanese researchers tracing the ancient migration of people from Asia to the Americas, said the concept of on was essential to why they volunteered and is the reason the Congressional Gold Medal means so much to them.

“The most powerful love on Earth is a mother’s love for her child. So when that child grows up, they should show that deep on to the parents. That is something you can never, never forget. So when I received this medal, I feel that feeling of on for America, not for Japan. For Japan I am grateful (for the emperor’s medal), but I have on for America because I was born in America and America was good to me. They gave me an education, and because of the kindness of the country I was able to go to school on the GI Bill, and my life has been very good. I have a deep, deep on to America, not Japan,” says Masunaga as his voice cracks with emotion.

The 442nd, 100th and MIS have collected nearly every military recognition. For their size, they are the most decorated units in U.S. history. But for them, the greatest recognition is knowing that never again will Japanese-Americans have to prove their loyalty.

Were they angry? Of course they were, at times, says Masunaga. It’s only natural. But they had a bigger mission to achieve.

“If it wasn’t for the war, we may have remained second-class citizens. And because of the war we have overcome discrimination. I’m grateful for America for giving us that chance,” says Yanamura.

Glenn Masunaga, 100th
Tad Fukumoto, MIS

Of the three groups that were honored, the exploits of the MIS are probably least known. They worked in jobs that were highly classified, but their impact was no less great. Fukumoto’s unit intercepted a radio transmission that identified Naval Gen. Isoroku Yamamoto’s flight plan. Using the information, U.S. pilots shot down Yamamoto’s plane, killing Imperial Japan’s most important military leader.

“The chief intelligence officer for Gen. MacArther said the MIS shortened the war by two years. We saved millions of lives of soldiers and civilians,” says Fukumoto with pride.

According to the MIS vet, the Hawaii translators and code breakers had another unique skill that helped safeguard U.S. secrets: Pidgin.

“They couldn’t understand us. Not even the Mainland Japanese knew what we were saying,” says Fukumoto.

Charles Ijima hopes the medal presentation and the associated celebrations will help educate today’s youths on the war and the seemingly unimaginable events that led Americans to lose their freedom.

Robert Arakaki, 100th
Herbert Yanamura, MIS

“When I look back at the ceremony, I was surprised there were so many nonvets at the ceremony,” says Ijima. “I was happy to take my son because he probably doesn’t know anything about war, and maybe when he gets much older and looks back he will appreciate being there. For me, that was a very historical moment, and I just wish more young children could have been there to witness the ceremony. I’m very happy I was there and for this medal. I’ve been showing it and my family have been showing it to all our friends and neighbors, and all the people who have been shown the medal appreciate what we did to get this award.”

So can you.

Members of the 442nd, 100th, MIS and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion which was stationed on Oahu during World War II will be honored at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 with a parade in Waikiki. A lunch banquet at Hawaii Convention Center follows at noon. Cost of the lunch is $75 for adults and $50 for children under 10. A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. All events are open to the public.

For more information, go to

Event co-chairwoman Barbara Tanabe says the luncheon will likely be sold out by MidWeek’s publication date, but that if veterans still want to attend, they will be accommodated and should contact event manager Dianna Shitanishi at 782-4514.

Nathalie Walker photos

Page 2 of 2 pages for this story  <  1 2

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge