It was great to see the Nisei heroes of the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team receive Congressional Gold Medals on Nov. 2 in Washington DC (watch the C-Span feed of the ceremony), and the media coverage of the long-overdue honor and recognition of these men’s patriotic achievements over 60 years ago.
Of all the media coverage, though, hats off to KABC in Los Angeles and to KABC anchor David Ono.
He’s produced a four-part documentary that the station should sell as a DVD, it’s that good and that powerful as an educational tool. The station sent Ono to Europe to interview people in Italy and France that remember the heroism of the diminutive Japanese American soldiers — it seems everyone was caught off-guard initially by the men’s height. He interviewed veterans and family members (the last segment is a real heartbreaker), and compiled an impressive amount of archival material for the reports.
I don’t know how long he had to produce this series, but he Ono deserves an award for this documentary. Here’s the link to the series on KABC, “witness: American Heroes.” Have some tissues handy….
One of the many powerful highlights of Ono’s reporting is this segment, which sheds light on two little-known aspects of the Nisei veterans: Nisei were the first to reach and release prisoners from Dachau (the fact wasn’t publicized because it looked better to show white soldiers liberating the death camp) and the story of the Military Intelligence Service, the Japanese-speaking soldiers who fought as intelligence officers in the Pacific Theater.
Gil, you’re absolutely right about the magnificent job done by David Ono in producing this documentary. We are all aware of the extraordinary record of the 100th/442nd and MIS on the battlefields; however, the stories relating to their interaction with the civilians are not as equally known. The confusion with the 522th FAB liberating the Nazi concentration camp was because there were a number of sub-camps that made up the Dachau complex. I read somewhere that the mayor of Bruyeres explaining why his townspeople would always remember the Nisei soldiers, “They were gentlemen soldiers. They treated our elderly, our children, and our women with respect and kindness.” Who can forget Sgt Hoichi Kubo who climbed down the side of a cliff in Saipan to enter a cave by himself to convince Japanese soldiers to let about 100 Japanese civilians leave with him. He not only succeeded, but he also coaxed the soldiers to surrender as well. Let us not forget those who refused to be drafted until their constitutional rights were first restored. We owe an unrepayable debt to these brave men and their families, and I will carry that obligation proudly.
Sakae Tanigawa became part of my family while stationed at Camp McCoy Wisconsin. He was part of the 100th, from Hawaii. He left an unbelievable legacy to his dear family of the battles he fought in during WW!! My husband and I were honored guests, of Sakae (Eddie) Tanigawa and his family at the 50th reunion of the 100th/442nd. . I have studied extensively what he and all his buddies endured during those days in the battlefield. Those “boys” were small, but oh so mighty showing their allegiance to the U.S. The love of Sakae, as my “brother”, lives on today, in my heart and through his wonderful family. Sakae promised (the last day he was visiting us in MN), that if he survived, that he would someday name a daughter after me! He kept that promise made to a very young little girl (me). I will be forever proud of him and his wonderful family, who will always be a part of me. Thank you for all of the 100th/442nd!
Thank you for your moving story, Lois!