CASE REPRESENTS CONGRESS AT 75TH ANNIVERSARY CEREMONIES FOR 100TH/442ND NISEI TROOPS IN FRANCE
(Honolulu, HI) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (Hawai‘i – District 1) today represented the United States Congress at ceremonies in and around Bruyères, France to honor soldiers of the U.S. Army’s storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) on the 75th anniversary of some of their most notable achievements.
In October 1944 the 442nd RCT, by then incorporating the equally storied 100th Infantry Battalion, were part of the U.S. Seventh Army’s offensive to liberate eastern France and pursue the German Army across the Rhine River into Germany. In fierce fighting in the Vosges Mountains of France, the 442nd liberated the towns of Bruyères, Biffontaine and Belmont and then, in the famous “Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” fought through German forces to save close to 300 Texas comrades who had been surrounded.
The 442nd, whose motto was “Go for Broke,” went on to become the most decorated unit in American history, earning its members and other Nisei WWII veterans the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010. In his Bruyères remarks to dignitaries and guests, Case said of the 442nd:
“In many ways they were just like any other American GI. But they were different, for they were mostly Japanese, mostly Nisei, second generation Americans, their parents born in Japan and immigrants to America in search of a better life.
“They were loyal Americans. But after Pearl Harbor their own country had questioned their loyalty. Refused them entry into the military. Seized their property, interned them and their families and friends in camps.
“It was one of the worst travesties by Americans against Americans in our history.
“Yet despite all that they suffered they wanted nothing more than to fight. To defend our country and our values. To prove their loyalty once and for all.”
Case was accompanied by his wife, Audrey, who commemorated the service in the 100th/442nd of two of her uncles. Private First-Class Yoshio (Michael) Hirata, from Kona and Audrey’s mother’s brother, fought in the Naples-Foggia and Rhineland campaigns.
Private First-Class Sadao Hikida, from Waikiki and Audrey’s father’s brother, fought in the Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns, including the fighting in the Vosges Mountains. At the Bruyères ceremony Case read excerpts from PFC Hikida’s war memoirs:
“On October 19th the combat outfit and 100th Battalion moved forward. Our goal was Bruyères. There were four hills above Bruyères that had to be cleared before the town could be secured. It continued to be rough going from the day we contacted the Jerries at Bruyères, Belmont and Biffontaine. We had to continuously fight hard, as we climbed up and down the wooded hills, crossed open terrain and dodged artillery shells.
“Finally, we were pulled back for rest at Belmont. Our rest was cut short when orders were received to attempt the rescue of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, a Texas unit. They were trapped and surrounded by the Germans in the forest about two miles east of Biffontaine.
“The attempt to rescue the trapped battalion was really tough. Our progress was slow. Severe fighting took place around the enemy roadblocks. Their firepower along with the tree bursts and mine explosions caused many casualties. We were able to accomplish our mission and rescue the Texas outfit.”
In Bruyères Case and Audrey also celebrated mass, marched in a parade and joined a special lū‘au. In his remarks he said:
“Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for your dedication and service in keeping the memory of the 442nd alive these three generations and for forging our strong bond between the peoples of Bruyères and Honolulu, France and the United States.
“I also know that I speak today for my United States Congress and fellow citizens in proudly reaffirming the historic and enduring alliance between the United States and France. Our nations and our peoples will continue to stand together.
“We will meet the challenges and promises of the future side by side, just as we have so many times in our centuries of shared history.”
Case is a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and of that committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, which is responsible for oversight of the American Battle Monuments Commission and its 26 permanent American military cemeteries abroad. In that capacity Case also inspected and toured the Épinal American Cemetery, close to Bruyères.
Épinal is the final resting place of 5,255 Americans, among them twelve soldiers from the 442nd, including two who enrolled from Hawai‘i: Staff Sergeant Tomosu Hirahara and Private Yoshio Tengwan. Case and Audrey paid their respects and placed wreaths at their graves.
Case spent Saturday, October 19th, in Stuttgart, Germany at the headquarters of the United States European Command (EUCOM) and Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), where he was briefed on defense issues in those commands’ area of responsibility with a focus on military construction and quality of life matters. He also had lunch with service personnel from Hawai’i. Later he met with Consul General Kara McDonald of U.S. Consulate General Strasbourg, with whom he discussed France’s activities in the Indo-Pacific.
Case returns to Washington, D.C. on Monday, October 21st, for the Congressional work week. (View his speech at Bruyères here)
Army Private Sadao Hikida fought in the Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns, including fighting in the Vosges Mountains
Army Private Yoshio Hirata fought in the Naples-Foggia and Rhineland campaigns