Just a few of the 81 veterans you'll meet in this book.
“I didn’t think I was ever coming back, war you know, never come back. It’s amazing I did come back because...” Don recalled how he lost his arm to a German machine gun,“ The Machine gun fired from right to left, bruurrrpp! If it had fired left to right I would have been dead.”
L Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
Goro was already in the Army when Pearl Harbor got bombed. He said he could see the planes flying around. Later that evening, a Sergeant put a 45 pistol to his belly and told him, “Turn in your weapon.” Luckily for the Army and America, he got his rifle back.
Leighton “Goro” Sumida
100th Battalion Separate (Original member), 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
Bob Ichikawa is a happy go lucky guy. Fairly even keeled, he is always laughing and smiling as he tells his stories. From his demeanor, you would never know of the hardships and trials of his early life he had to face. Growing up in Los Angeles in 1942, he was just like any other J.A. (Japanese American) kid. Parents made him study hard, taught him honesty and hard work. He even used to mow the lawn for Ronald Reagan . . . he lived on Highland he recalled. When war broke out and they had to leave their home, his father sold everything in the house for twenty-one dollars. He remembered telling his mom, “This is against the law, it’s unconstitutional, we are American citizens!” His mom replied back, “Shut up and pack.”
Robert “Bob” Ichikawa
E Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
Being denied his rights as a U.S. citizen because of his Japanese heritage made Roy really angry, but he volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1942. Because of his knowledge of Japanese he was recruited by the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota. A graduate of the school’s second class (the first was at the Presidio, CA), he was sent to the China-Burma-India Theater where he volunteered to serve as a Japanese-language intelligence specialist with a new unit being trained for long range strikes and jungle warfare in Burma. Roy Matsumoto would eventually earn the Legion of Merit and six Bronze Stars, one with a ”V” for valor was presented by the Sec. of the Army.
Roy Hiroshi Matsumoto
Military intelligence Service, US Army
“I was really mad in a way...because we were American citizens and incarcerated. They also reclassified us as 4C-enemy alien not desirable for service in the Armed Forces of the United States. It was really unfair.” Ken continued, “When the recruiter came I was so dang happy!” The decision to volunteer caused a lot of friction with some of the Issei (first generation immigrant) parents. Ken recalled one Issei saying, “You’re no better than we are. You have parents in Japan. What are they gonna say?”He responded, “The reason why we’re here is that we don’t have any past record where the “Nihonjin” or Japanese could prove their loyalty. Now’s our chance...Some of us are not going to come back, but if that will change things for the better for the Japanese, it would be worth it.”
Kenjiro “Ken” Akune
Military Intelligence Service, US Army
In life Toe loved boxing and singing and was full of spirit. While small in stature he optimized the strength and heart of all Japanese Americans as they fought battles on the front lines as well as the battles at home . He stood up for himself and for anyone wronged. He fought for the rights of Japanese Americans in his own way , proudly holding his own . He understood that you can’t blame anyone by their face for a war.
Yoshito "Toe" Yoshino
H Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
Growing up near Pearl Harbor as a kid, Ron Oba witnessed it being bombed. Hearing sounds of fireworks and then thunderous booms, he ran outside, and he said it was like a chain reaction seeing the battleships explode one after another on Battleship Row. He saw a torpedo bomber amazingly fly right above him just after he dropped his torpedoes. Ron said he could see the pilot, who looked Japanese, in his big goggles and furry hoodie. The pilot was looking down at him with a quizzical look staring at a kid that looks like him staring back at him!
F Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army
Toshio "Tosh" Okamoto
K Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, US Army