Bravest of Courageous – WWII Nisei Heroes

Bravest of Courageous – WWII Nisei Heroes

Bravest of Courageous – WWII Nisei Heroes

Johnny Nakamura was a Nisei – first era of native-born Japanese dad and mom – and one in every of my classmates. He was killed in World Battle II combating the Germans in Italy.

How he and lots of of his Nisei cronies fought and died – whereas their households had been seen with suspicion by People or herded into “detention” camps with barbed wire – is a lesson in patriotism.

Guests to this column could recall my latest article on the right way to write your personal epitaph. I discussed Johnny after we had been journalism college students at Flint, Michigan, Central Excessive Faculty, grappling with our first lesson. We had been requested to put in writing our obituaries.

Johnny closed his mission with an epitaph to engrave on his tombstone: “I? Why?“His phrases have haunted me all my life.

My dissertation on epitaphs on this journal’s web site was noticed by a classmate Jason Austin from Davison, Michigan. He handed it on through the Web to Johnny’s youthful brother, Frank. He lives in retirement in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Ah, the wonders of digital journalism!

We’re indebted to those and different sources concerning the Nisei Regimental Fight Crew. It consisted of the a centesimal (Hawaii) Infantry Battalion and the 442nd (Mainland) Volunteer Infantry.

It’s the most embellished fight unit within the U.S. Military by measurement and size of service. For the file: 22 Medals of Honor, 9,500 Purple Hearts and 18,000 Fight Bravery decorations.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, the already current a centesimal battalion took half within the reconstruction of the naval base. Native-born Japanese civilians weren’t segregated, however they voluntarily saved a low profile.

In California, Japanese immigrant households—even naturalized residents and their American-born kids—had been rounded up and positioned in internment camps.

* * *

I used to be a graduate of Flint Junior School and Johnny was effectively superior on a level from the College of Michigan. I joined the navy. He was drafted into the military and commenced coaching within the Sign Corps. .

Two months later, Johnny was honorably discharged”for faulty induction” to be elegant “4-C, enemy alien.

On the identical time, Johnny’s father, William Nakamura, a design engineer for the Chevrolet Motor Automobile Firm, was fired as an enemy alien. He and his spouse Elsie, additionally born in Japan, had 5 extra kids.

The corporate gave him work he may do from dwelling till he could possibly be reinstated eight months later. He retired from Chevrolet in 1945 after the give up of Japan.

Johnny was intensely patriotic and repeatedly tried to enlist within the army. Navy intelligence turned him down as a result of he did not communicate Japanese. He traveled to Washington, DC, and requested his senator and consultant for assist.

In February 1943, the military allowed Nisei to volunteer for army service. Inside every week, Johnny was again on responsibility. A yr later, he took half within the Allied marketing campaign in Italy, combating the Germans at Belvedere, Luciano and Livorno.

Johnny typically wrote dwelling to explain the friendships he had developed with liberated Italians.

The 442nd was despatched to France in September 1944. There it was hooked up to the Seventh Military and noticed a few of the bloodiest combating of the battle at Bruyères.

Very quickly after, the Nisei had been known as upon to rescue a “misplaced battalion.” The first Battalion, thirty sixth Texas Infantry Division, at Biffontaine was practically out of ammunition and surrounded by the Germans.

Once more the 442nd succeeded, however with 800 useless and wounded. In 1963, Texas Governor John Connally shaped the whole 442nd Regiment”Honorary Texans” in remembrance of their valiant rescue.

The 442nd was despatched to Good, France, for a couple of weeks of “relaxation and restoration

The 442nd was returned to Italy in April 1945 as “secret weapon“for the ultimate battle in Italy. There, on April 5, Johnny and his platoon had been focused by a German mortar barrage. All had been killed.

The battle in Europe ended solely 32 days later.

Sergeant Chester Tanaka later wrote to Johnny’s dad and mom. “John advised me one night time that he anticipated to be killed the subsequent day. I provided to take him out of the road for a couple of days, however John would not.”

The following day, John was really killed within the line of responsibility.

stars and stripes

stars and stripes“, the Military newspaper, printed the next story about his dying:

“Personal John Nakamura of Flint, Michigan, a person who speaks together with his platoon, who has by no means missed a single day of fight and has roughly 175 precise fight days underneath his belt, stated:

“After I was in France, I considered Italy. I considered that point after we had been thirsty and consuming from a stream. The following day, additional upstream, we discovered a few useless Jerries, an Italian useless who was pregnant, useless goats and a useless cow, all of them had been within the water for a very long time.

“‘I additionally keep in mind the 27 days from Grosetto to Pisa throughout which there was no rain or a single cloud. Now that I’m in Italy, I solely consider Good.'”

Final letter dwelling

Johnny’s final letter dwelling, written from France whereas on R&R, was typical of his love of life, nation and household – and his talent at writing:

“Thanks for the birthday card. I am unable to even start to appreciate how a lot time has handed. I do not know if it has been an extended or brief time since January. Residence would not appear close to or far.

“All of it appears like a dream by which time is misplaced earlier than you realize it. I stated, ‘Why, yesterday was my birthday, and I did not even know that.’

“Battle information appears encouraging, however one shouldn’t count on an excessive amount of. Battle conditions can change in a single day – for higher or for worse.

“Me, I do not remorse being right here, nor being within the infantry. Infantry is tough, it would not get any youthful – 24 years and [I am] not settled but.

“You need to reside some form of life, and I may by no means be comfy if I hadn’t gone to take my a part of that battle.

“Everybody’s private life has worth to himself. He desires to be allowed to take pleasure in it. A person who stays behind and doesn’t share army service – if he’s match and crucial – says actually: “My life is extra valuable to me. You possibly can waste yours, however I am going to preserve mine. It is fallacious.

“You do not have to fret if I do not quiet down even after the battle is over. I realized loads even being within the military. I’d keep in France for 2 years earlier than returning dwelling if I may. discover a technique to do it – examine French and literature and different issues that curiosity me.

“Navy life has made me be happy, regardless that I have never chosen a profession but. It would not appear vital so long as I can discover a really satisfying life.

“When you find yourself a toddler, his dad and mom do every little thing they will for him. When he grows up, he has to do for himself.”

* * *

For his army service, Johnny obtained the Fight Infantry Man’s Badge for his motion in Italy and France, the Purple Coronary heart for wounds obtained in fight and the Bronze Star Medal for “heroic achievement.

He’s buried in Arlington Nationwide Cemetery.

Thanks Johnny and relaxation in peace.

#Bravest #Courageous #WWII #Nisei #Heroes

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