POSTED: 9:28 a.m. HST, Nov 1, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 12:56 p.m. HST, Nov 1, 2011
It's taken nearly seven decades, but today nisei war veteran Don Masuda finally received a Bronze Star for his World War II service in Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in a Washington, D.C., ceremony.
Masuda, 90, was among about 40 nisei warriors receiving overdue medals during a ceremony at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The World War II veterans and their families also visited the World War II?Memorial on the National Mall and the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism.
Today’s ceremonies are a prelude to the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the 100th Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service Wednesday at the Emancipation Hall of Congress.
The medal, one of the nation’s highest honors, recognizes the service of more than 26,000 nisei who fought in Europe and Asia during World War II. Many of them volunteered from mainland internment camps, where their families were sent after Japan's attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. About two-thirds of the men were from Hawaii.
More than 1,250 honorees, including 330 Nisei veterans, will attend the ceremony. The program will begin at 5 a.m. Hawaii time and will be carried by the Pentagon TV channel and can also be seen online live at www.pentagonchannel.mil. Organizers also are hoping that the ceremony will be part of C-SPAN cable network programming on Wednesday.
About 60 veterans from Hawaii traveled to Washington, D.C., from Hawaii. There are 27 nisei veterans from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 14 from the 100th Battalion and the 19 from the Military Intelligence Service. Their flight over the weekend was greeted by fire trucks, which sprayed water over their arriving plane.
Masuda described this morning’s 90-minute program as "very emotional."
"There were tears in the eyes of many of them," said the Nuuanu resident.