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Japanese-American veterans from Hawaii heading to D.C. for Congressional Gold Medal

  • COURTESY PHOTO
    (From left to right)Kenneth Higa, Paul Watanabe, Ron Bongiovanni, president of Celebrity Tuxedos, Akira Akimoto, Isao Takiyama, and Takashi Shirakata, model the blue blazers they will wear at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Washington, D.C.
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Hundreds of Japanese-American World War II veterans are heading to Washington, D.C. this weekend to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

A group of 23 veterans left Hawaii Saturday along with 47 family members. This is the largest single group leaving the islands for Wednesday’s ceremony, which will be hosted by House Speaker John Boehner.

Congress last year voted to award the medal collectively to those who served in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service during the war. The youngest of the veterans being honored are in their mid-80s. Many are now in their 90s.

The veterans volunteered to serve even though they were branded "enemy aliens." Some, particularly those from the mainland, enlisted while their families were detained in internment camps.

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