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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 102
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Young Oak Kim
[Koreans in Wartime Hawai'i: An Introduction]
During World War II, the U.S. army created the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprising Japanese American soldiers. As a young officer, Young Oak Kim, a second-generation Korean American, led elements of the battalion in combat and became the most decorated soldier in the 442nd, receiving a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, and the French Croix de Guerre, among other medals. During the Korean War, the army asked Kim to return to active duty because of his fluency in Korean; he agreed, provided he would be assigned to a combat unit rather than serve as a translator. Major Kim commanded the 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, and 7th Infantry Division in Korea. In 1972, he retired as a colonel. He subsequently joined with the Japanese American community to help found the Go for Broke Educational Foundation as a tribute to the Japanese American units of World War II.