Letters from the 442nd
The World War II Correspondence of a Japanese American Medic
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Washington Press
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The men of the 442nd, who endured the horrors and traumas of World War II, have a permanent blood relationship that binds those of us from friendly communities in Hawaii with volunteers from behind barbed wire, such as Min Masuda. The men of the 442nd, who left behind parents and loved ones in dusty, desolate...
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Work on this book began in 1989, when Hana Masuda asked me to collaborate with her to publish the letters her husband had written to her during World War II. At the time, I was working in the University of Washington Archives and had been assigned to process Masuda's papers. Hana and I worked together until...
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During the last years of World War II, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was well publicized in newsreels and newspapers. Knowledge of their service has continued through the years, with books, a movie, and a documentary celebrating their contribution. What has been lacking is a personal account written by a soldier during...
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I was born into the Japanese community in the heart of Chinatown, in Seattle. I grew up with it, was acculturated into it, and became a part of it. It was a bustling and hustling cohesive ethnic community, almost completely self-sustained, socially and economically. It had its own banks and a chamber of commerce, two Japanese-language...
1. America & Algeria, August 1943–May 1944
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After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans in the United States were forbidden to serve in the armed services. Those already in the service were watched carefully. The only extant unit composed of Japanese Americans was a battalion of the Hawaii National Guard. Renamed the 100th Infantry Battalion, it was sent to Camp...
2. Italy, June–September 1944
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In Italy, the 100th Battalion, a former National Guard unit from Hawaii, joined the 442nd as its first battalion. The 100th had served with distinction at the battles of Anzio and Salerno. Proud of its service and its separate identity, it was allowed to keep its numerical designation...
3. France, October–November 1944
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In October 1944, the 442nd was sent to France to join the Thirtysixth Division of the Seventh Army. The Seventh Army had successfully invaded southern France and liberated eastern and southern France. Their progress was stopped, however, in the Vosges Mountains in northeastern France. The Germans had been ordered to...
4. France, November 1944–March 1945
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In November 1944, the 442nd journeyed by truck to an assembly area near Nice, France. Here they were attached to the Forty-fourth Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade and sent to guard the French-Italian border. Their zone of action extended from the French riviera on the Mediterranean to the mountains. Although this proved to be a quiet...
5. Italy, April–May 1945
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After what seems a long, long time, I am finally writing to you. I can't say that it was impossible to write to you during our many movements, but at times like these I have the greatest inertia in matters of correspondence. I think you could judge from my last letters that something was afoot and now you know just what did happen to us...
6. Italy, May–December 1945
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The 442d does get around, doesn't it? We're hell and gone from where I last wrote you in Cuneo. You ask "what are we doing up here?"— wait awhile and I'll tell you. . . . Before going any further get hold of a map of northern Italy and follow us on this long trip. We headed north from Cuneo, I, the Lt Herman and Higgins driving in the front...
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Because of the rough seas, the Randolph was delayed. When the seas subsided, the ship was able to reach New York. Then the men were sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, to be discharged. I expected Min to be home New Year's Day. The thought of seeing him again filled me with overwhelming happiness and excitement. I had visions of...
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Appendix: People Mentioned in the Letters
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Note on Sources
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Publication Year: 2008