442nd Regimental Combat Team
The 442nd was a segregated U.S. Army unit comprised of Japanese American Nisei that fought with uncommon valor in Italy, France, and Germany. The unit was preceded by the 100th Infantry Battalion, formed from 1,400 volunteers of the Hawaii National Guard. The soldiers of the 100th were sent to train at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and first saw combat in Italy in September 1943. They were later folded into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was initially comprised of 3,000 more volunteers from Hawaii and 800 from the mainland internment camps.
The 442nd sailed for Italy on May 1, 1944. Throughout the summer of 1944, they distinguished themselves in fierce fighting at Belvedere, Castellina, and around the Arno River. In September, the 442nd was transferred to France, and in October, fought ferociously in the Vosges Mountains, close to the German border. They liberated Bruyères, Biffontaine, and Belmont. In their most famous engagement, they rescued the Texans of the “Lost Battalion,” which had been cut off behind enemy lines. Over four days, the 442nd suffered 800 casualties in brutal fighting to rescue 211 surviving Texan soldiers. In the spring of 1945, the 442nd again fought with distinction in northern Italy where their offensives finally helped to break the German Gothic line near the end of the war.
The 14,000 men who ultimately served in the 442nd were awarded 9,486 Purple Hearts. The regiment won an unprecedented seven Presidential Unit Citations. Its members won 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 4,000 Bronze Stars. Per capita, the 442nd is recognized as the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.