Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that he spoke on floor of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday in support of S.Con.Res. 28, a concurrent resolution authorizing the use of the Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for an event to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.
The concurrent resolution, sponsored by Senator Daniel Inouye (HI), passed in the House yesterday and the World War II veterans of the two combat units and the Military Intelligence Service are scheduled to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively during a ceremony in November. The full text of Congressman Faleomavaega's floor statement is copied below.
On behalf of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Chairwoman Chu, Congresswoman Hirono, Congresswoman Hanabusa, and Congressman Honda, I rise today in support of S.Con.Res. 28, a resolution that would authorize the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center for an event to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II. I thank Senator Daniel Inouye for sponsoring this resolution, and I thank my fellow members of Congress who join me in support of this important bill.
As a Vietnam veteran and also a former member of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Reserve Unit in Honolulu, Hawaii, I am especially proud to say that we must recognize Senator Daniel Inouye, and also highly-respected, the late Senator Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii, who distinguished themselves in battle as soldiers with the 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry during World War II.
As we all know, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there was such an outrage and cry for an all out war against Japan and days afterwards our President and the Congress officially declared war against Japan. Out of this retaliation against Japan, however, tens of thousands of Americans were caught in the crossfire. These Americans just happened to be of Japanese ancestry.
The federal government immediately implemented a policy whereby over 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forced to live in what were called relocation camps, but were actually more like prison or concentration camps. Their lands, homes and properties were confiscated by the federal government without due process of law. It was a time in our nation’s history when there was so much hatred, bigotry and racism against our fellow Americans who happened to be of Japanese ancestry.
Despite all this, over ten thousand Japanese Americans volunteered to join the U.S. military, despite the fact that their wives, parents, brothers and sisters were imprisoned behind barbed wire fences in these relocation camps. As a result of such volunteerism, two combat units, the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Combat Group, were organized and immediately sent to fight Nazi Germany in Europe.
Mr. Speaker, in my humble opinion, history speaks for itself in documenting that none have shed their blood more valiantly for our nation than the Japanese American soldiers who served in these two combat units. These units suffered an unprecedented casualty rate of 314%. They also emerged as the most decorated combat unit of their size in the history of the United States Army. The 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry received over 18,000 individual decorations for bravery and courage in the field of battle, many awarded posthumously. They were awarded 53 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 9,486 Purple Hearts, and 7 Presidential Unit Citations, the nation’s top award for combat units. And yet, only one Medal of Honor was awarded at the time.
It was not until 1999 that Congress took corrective action by mandating a re-examination of why just one Medal of Honor was awarded to these Japanese Americans. As a result of this review, President Clinton awarded 20 additional Congressional Medals of Honor to these brave Japanese-American soldiers.
It was while fighting in Europe that Senator Inouye lost his arm while engaged in his personal battle against two German machine gun posts. For his heroism, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Senator Inouye was also one those recipients of the Medal of Honor and I was privileged to witness this historical moment at a White House ceremony.
Mr. Speaker, we should also note that while the 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry were fighting on the front lines, thousands of Japanese Americans also joined the first U.S. military foreign language school, the Military Intelligence Service (also known as the M.I.S.), where they learned Japanese.
During the war, about 6,000 M.I.S. agents fought in all Army units in the Pacific and were assigned to allied forces in Australia, Britain, Canada, China, and India. They staffed theater-level intelligence centers and their duties included translating captured documents, interrogating prisoners of war, and listening to enemy radio communications.
At Bougainville in 1942 an M.I.S. agent translated an uncoded Japanese radio transmission describing Admiral Yamamoto’s inspection schedule of the bases around the Solomon Islands, thereby leading to the successful interception of Yamamoto’s aircraft. This victory resulted in a boost in morale for the Allies in the Pacific since Admiral Yamamoto had directed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In 1944, the M.I.S. also translated the Japanese Imperial Navy’s “Z-Plan,” which outlined defense strategies in the Pacific. The translation of this vital document made it possible for the U.S. Navy to gain victory in the Marianas, the Philippines, and in other areas of the Pacific.
At war’s end, the M.I.S. facilitated local surrenders of Japanese forces as well as the occupation. Working in military government, war crimes trials, censorship, and counterintelligence, these silent warriors contributed to the occupation’s ultimate success.
Though many would only come to know of these stories decades later, these brave Americans earned the respect of our nation’s military leaders at a time when many Americans saw them as enemies. President Harry Truman called the Japanese Americans in the M.I.S. the “human secret weapon for the U.S. Armed Forces” and General Willoughby, MacArthur’s intelligence chief credited the M.I.S. Nisei with shortening the war by two years and saving possibly a million American lives. President Truman was also so moved by the bravery of the 100th Battalion and 442nd Infantry in the field of battle, as well as that of African American soldiers during World War II, that he issued an Executive Order to finally desegregate all branches of the Armed Services.
On October 5, 2010 President Barack Obama granted the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team as well as the 6,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that each one of these American heroes should be recognized for this high honor here in the heart of our nation – the United States Capitol – for their bravery, patriotism, and selfless service. I ask my colleagues to support this resolution to honor these men and women who valiantly served our nation.