Congressional Gold Medal
Congress honors World War II
World War II veteran Howard Matsuhara of Sacramento, California, said he was “Honored.” Iwao Yokooji, of Waimanalo, Hawaii, paused for a long time and then said he was “Speechless.” Matsuhara and Yokooji, along with hundreds of Japanese-American World War II veterans, received the highest civilian award in the United States, the Congressional Gold Medal, at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on November 2.
Speaker John Boehner presided over the ceremony to honor members of the 100th infantry, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service for their exemplary service during World War II.
Among those honored was Senator Daniel K. Inouye who was severely wounded during World War II. Casualty rates in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were exceedingly high as they fought heroically to defend the United States in Europe.
With a motto of “Go for Broke” these units received more than 18,000 individual decorations, including more than 9,000 Purple Hearts, and became the most decorated Army units in the history of the United States. The Military Intelligence Service—whose efforts are credited with shortening the war—intercepted radio messages, translated documents and encouraged opposing troops to surrender.
In addition to their bravery, these veterans stand apart from others because of their identities. The units were made up of Japanese-Americans interned in relocation camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Congressional Gold Medal honors their dedication of service to the United States. Senator Inouye summarized the history of the units by saying “It’s been a long journey, but a glorious one.”