Guest opinion: Japanese-American WW II vets receive a long-overdue honor

In his weekly guest opinion, Sen. Mike Crapo pays tribute to one of the most remarkable units in World War II: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The 442nd was comprised of Japanese-American soldiers, including Kazuo Endow of Blackfoot and Agie Harada, of Shelley, who were recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Writes Crapo: "It is remarkable that these Americans of Japanese ancestry were considered “enemy aliens” yet volunteered to defend the U.S. and did so with great distinction. Being in the presence of these men who served our country so honorably was humbling."

Here's a link to the full Crapo guest opinion.

And a link to an outstanding profile of Caldwell 442nd veteran Harry Kawahara, written last fall by former Statesman reporter Kathleen Kreller.

"Go For Broke" (1951) was a movie about the 442nd RCT

Starred Van Johnson as the Lt. struggling with his own prejudices as he leads a platoon of the 442nd. I think some of the actors were actual members of the 442nd. Recommend it if you can find it.

It's amazing that in my parents generation the 442nd RCT, or the segregated 92nd Division was the order of the day, or that Jim Crow laws were still enforced during the first few years of my life.

We have come a long way in just one lifetime.

"Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand-in-hand." Neil Peart

The late Harry Hamada

Of Mountain Home was a veteran of the 442. He was in the Army when Pearl Harbor happened and worked as a camp cook in Wyoming. After PH, he was reassigned to another Army base to drive truck because his CO thought Harry might sabotage the food. When his new commander found out Harry was a cook, he hired him right away because the camp cook they had was terrible.
Harry served in Italy and France and was the most combat-decorated member of American Legion Post 26.