Veteran's Day

In honor of Veteran’s Day today in the States, I thought I’d share some pictures of some of my loved ones who have served.

First up my maternal grandpa (Gung Gung) or “M.C.” who I believe was in the U.S. Airforce. Unfortunately I don’t know a whole lot of his history there but I did find an image of their squadron - the 40th Bomb Wing in Erlangen, Germany in 1946 so he must have been stationed there for a while. After his service he went on to become the Honolulu Fire Department’s, Fire Chief.

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Next is my paternal grandpa, “Ace” who I wrote about previously here. He was in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the 100th Infantry Battalion. At the time, many Japanese Americans were distrusted due to Japan’s involvement in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Even though these Japanese Americans had lived and worked in the United States for many years, their loyalty came into question when fighting alongside their other American comrades in the throes of World War 2. His unit went on to become the most decorated in U.S. history for the size of the unit and the length of time served. A monument was erected in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles later on to honor those who served in that battalion.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my grandpa in service but at least of the Go For Broke monument which bears his and the 16,130 Nisei soldiers’ names that served in this historically groundbreaking unit.

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Last and most certainly not least, my dad, John. He served during the Vietnam war as a Private, from December 8, 1968 - December 8, 1969. This was the time that men were being drafted into the military and so my dad decided to volunteer instead, and that way he could at least have more of a choice in where in the division he got to serve in. He got data processing, I.T. - back in those days where the computers were as large as an entire room.

Here he is visiting an orphanage during his stay in Vietnam. Apparently he was almost ready to adopt that adorable little girl.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 3) - Go For Broke Monument

January 25, 2016 (continued): One of my must visit places I had to see for very personal reasons when I came to LA, was the Go For Broke Monument in Little Tokyo.

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My paternal grandfather, Takao Matsuoka was a second generation Japanese American living in Hawaii, and on December 7, 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Americans distrust of anyone with Japanese ethnicity grew exponentially. Even though the second generation Japanese Americans were citizens by birthright, during this time many questioned their loyalty and allegiances.

My grandfather, Takao Matsuoka (right), with his father (left).

My grandfather, Takao Matsuoka (right), with his father (left).

Over 30,000 Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military during World War 2, despite having family still in internment camps, despite the American anti-Japanese propaganda, and from personal anecdotes from my grandfather - being called racial slurs by fellow servicemen while fighting alongside each other.

My grandfather was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated in U.S. history to this day for their size and length of service. To honor those Japanese Americans who served, and recognize their loyalty despite the prejudices they faced, a monument was erected with the unit’s motto “Go For Broke” as its name. “Go For Broke” is Hawaiian pidgin English used when describing going all in on something and giving it everything you’ve got.

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Inscribed on the front is the quotation from a 100th Infantry veteran:

“Rising to the defense of their country, by the thousands they came – these young Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, the states, America's concentration camps – to fight in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. Looked upon with suspicion, set apart and deprived of their constitutional rights, they nevertheless remained steadfast and served with indomitable spirit and uncommon valor, for theirs was a fight to prove loyalty. This legacy will serve as a sobering reminder that never again shall any group be denied liberty and the rights of citizenship”. – Ben H. Tamashiro

Below are more quotes from others recognizing the history these Japanese Americans achieved:

"You not only fought the enemy . . . you fought prejudice and won." – President Harry S. Truman as he welcomed the 100/442 RCT home

"Never in military history did an army know as much about the enemy prior to actual engagement" – General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Pacific Theater, referring to the MIS

"My fellow Americans, we gather here today to right a grave wrong . . . now let me sign H.R. 442." – President Ronald Reagan, Civil Liberties Act of 1988

"The Nisei saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years" – Charles A. Willoughby, General MacArthur's Intelligence Officer, referring to the MIS

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On the back of the monument, inscribed are the names of 16,126 Nisei soldiers that served. One of them being my grandfathers’.

It was incredibly moving being there, seeing his name on this monument. Not only because he was part of a significant point in history but also thinking of the difficulties and hardships many faced at that time while just soldiering on through because there was no other choice.

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I’m a proud granddaughter, but this is not the only reason why I would highly recommend visiting this monument and the museum next door where you can learn more about this part of history. I think it’s more relevant than ever as this cycle seems to be repeating itself again in current day, just with different players. We can all take into account how our own attitudes can affect others, even on a day to day basis.