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Japanese-American WWII vets honored at Waikiki parade

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:05 p.m. HST, Dec 17, 2011

Photo Gallery: Veterans honored

Hundreds of Japanese-American veterans of World War II were honored Saturday with a parade in Waikiki — nearly 70 years after they volunteered to fight for their country even as the government branded them "enemy aliens."

About 200 veterans rode in convertibles, troop carriers and trolleys past a cheering crowd of tourists, family and local residents. The event celebrates the Congressional Gold Medal the veterans received last month.

Thousands of Japanese-Americans served in World War II even as the government viewed them with suspicion because their ancestors were from the country that bombed Pearl Harbor. Some on the mainland enlisted from internment camps, where the federal government had imprisoned 110,000 Japanese-Americans.

Fragile health prevented many of the surviving veterans — the youngest of whom are in their 80s — from traveling to Washington, D.C., to attend a ceremony at which the medal was presented.

Two-thirds of the Japanese-Americans who served were from Hawaii. Many others were from California, Oregon and Washington state.

The medal recognizes the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion which together saw some of the most brutal fighting in the war as the soldiers pushed their way through Italy, France and Germany.

By the end of the war, the combined unit became the most highly decorated military unit in U.S. history for its size and length of service.

Those in the parade Saturday wore hats with the names of their units on them, and some included the saying "Go for Broke," which had been the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat team.

The medal also honors Japanese-Americans who served as translators and interpreters against Japan, often on the front lines with Marines and soldiers fighting from island to island across the Pacific.

As members of the Military Intelligence Service, they deciphered key Japanese communications, including one that tipped off the U.S. to the flight plans of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto — the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor — in 1943. The U.S. shot down his plane, dealing a major blow to Japan.

The parade also honored members of the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion who were stationed on Oahu during the war.

The elite medal has been given selectively since 1776, when George Washington was awarded the first. Other honorees include the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Rosa Parks and the Dalai Lama. The Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of black fighter pilots, received the medal in 2007.

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Pacej001 wrote:
These men richly deserve the honor and tribute. So do the brilliant young people who have come home from the nine year Iraq war. Where is their parade? When/how will the city/state honor them?
on December 16,2011 | 06:54AM
kuewa wrote:
While I can understand the unusual circumstances and heroic service of these veterans, it also seems that they are repeatedly honored while all the local Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian and others who served during WWII are pretty much ignored. Let's not forget that back then, Hawai`i was not a State and the rest of the country pretty much lumped all the Asian-looking people together.
on December 16,2011 | 07:30AM
Peacenik wrote:
on December 16,2011 | 09:19AM
cojef wrote:
You were not subjected to the indignations and insults they had to bear so you lack the understanding. The tragedy was that during War II the psychological warfare division created this hysteria to influence the masses to direct their energies to the War effort, at the expense of the Japanese Americans and denied them of "due process under law". Although innocent as has been proven later, the Japanese Americans were on the mainland incacerated into relocation centers ( actually concentration camps like the Nazis did to the Jews in Europe). In spite of these atrocious acts perpetrated on them, the loyal young men, served their country with honor. No other ethnic group has been able to match their patriotism under fire of War. Their acts of heroism has been documented in the annuals of the Library of Congress. I too suffered indignation during my teen years growing up in Hawaii.
on December 16,2011 | 10:18AM
hwpeb wrote:
"I too suffered indignation during my teen years growing up in Hawaii." Ditto, while attending Kalakaua Intermediate School during the late 1960's, a Polynesian student approached and accused me of bombing Pearl Harbor stating that is what his dad told him.
on December 17,2011 | 04:34PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
In fact, now all members of gthe 442nd and 100th were Japanese.
on December 17,2011 | 02:10PM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Read that "NOT ALL" of the guys in the 442, 100th, and MIS were Japanese. Most of the officers were not, including famous warriors like Col. Miller and Col. Pence, battalion commanders. And I seem to recall there was a much-decorated Korean officer in the 442nd. Some were Hawaiians, who happened to be of mixed background, part-Japanese, but with Hawaiian names. They were all Americans. We never hear of them, only those who were ethnic Japanese -- probably because we were at war with Japan.
on December 17,2011 | 03:15PM
TigerEye wrote:
Folks, I'm sure these events don't just rise up out of the ground, spontaneously and under only certain people. Someone has to first take the initiative and then expend a considerable amount of time and effort proposing, organizing, coordinating, etc. Why not give it a try?
on December 16,2011 | 08:06AM
Earlier this week, there was an article about Vikki Powell coming to Hawaii to find out more about her father Captain James Clyde Vaughn who served with Company A of the 100th Infantry Battalion. He was with the unit when it shipped out on June 5, 1942. He was wounded in Italy near San Angelo de Alife. According to his fellow soldiers, he and his wife attended reunions in Hawaii over the years after the war. He was an integral part of the Purple Heart Battalion during and after the war. I hope Vikki was able to meet the soldiers who served with her dad.
on December 16,2011 | 02:30PM
sloturle wrote:
what time does it start?
on December 17,2011 | 10:04AM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Yeah, great article. Posted at 7:23 am with all the info you need except WHAT TIME IT STARTS.
on December 17,2011 | 05:50PM
Cubsfan wrote:
Very well deserved for a great bunch of men who fought for our country even though they took a lot of cr ap from a lot of people. They never cried it wasn't fair or never wanted anything back but their respect. I wish everybody was like this.
on December 17,2011 | 09:16PM
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