Go For Broke! The Rescue of the “Lost Battalion” by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion Clare O’Brien World War Two In Europe Background • • • • 442nd Regimental Combat Team: An all Japanese American army combat team of over 12,000 volunteers 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate): First combat unit in US history to be comprised of exclusively Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii Both comprised of Nisei (Second generation Japanese-Americans) 141st Texas Regiment: The regiment that would come to be known as the “Lost Battalion” Members of the 100th Infantry Battalion Organization of the 442nd Combat Team & the 100th Battalion Commanders: 442nd Regimental Combat Team -Colonel Charles W. Pence -Lieutenant Colonel James L. Gillespie -Major Alex E. McKenzie -Major William H. Blytt 100 Battalion -Lieutenant Colonel Farrant L. Turner -Lieutenant Colonel James L. Gillespie Units: 442nd COMBAT TEAM 442nd Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion (100th Infantry Battalion) Companies A, B, C, D 2nd Battalion - Companies E, F, G, H 3rd Battalion - Companies I, K, L, M 522 Field Artillery Battalion - 16 Mar 1945, reassigned to 7th Army 232 Combat Engineering Company Anti- Tank Company Cannon Company Service Company 206 Army Band Supporting Units 599th Field Artillery Battalion of 92nd Division Origins of the Rescue • The 442nd and the 141st Texas Regiment were both part of the 36th Division under the command of Major General John Dahlquist • They were fighting in Eastern France, near the German border • Dahlquist had ordered the 141st Texas Regiment to advance four miles beyond friendly forces where the Germans surrounded them • The Fuhrer ordered the German troops to hold the area with no surrender or retreat Major General John Dahlquist The Battle Begins • Texans were not rescued by their own men in the 141st, nor by other white soldiers in the 143rd Regiment • Dahlquist ordered the Nisei, battle fatigued from their liberations of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, to rescue the battalion • October 25th,1944: General Dahlquist ordered the regiment to line the flank of the main body of the 141st Lt. Col. James Hanley, Commander of the Second Battalion of the 442d, handdrawn map. Outlines objective and route of attack October 27th • • • • Dahlquist ordered the battalions of the 442nd to rescue the Lost Battalion but progress was slow Attempted movement of tanks were stopped my land mines The terrain was next to impossible, heavily forested and carpeted with a dense growth of underbrush The Nisei faced a tank and infantry attack by the Germans but broke the assault despite that they were outnumbered 4 to 1 October 28th • Both battalions continued the drive forward in the face of stubborn resistance and heavy artillery and mortar fire • Casualties went up and up, caused largely by tree bursts and resulting shrapnel, from which there was no escape • Tanks couldn’t move on steep and slippery hillsides covered with underbrush and fallen trees October 29th • The situation for the Lost Battalion was worsening, drinking water and medical supplies were nearly exhausted • An initial attack by the 442nd/100th on the Germans failed in the face of superior firepower but Dahlquist ordered to resume the attack • They were ordered to charge up a heavily defended ridge that would come to be known as “Suicide Hill” with fixed bayonets, exchanging automatic weapons fire with Germans at point blank range • The Nisei were “killing or seriously wounding the enemy gun crews, but themselves sprawling dead over the enemy positions they had just neutralized” • When asked for reinforcements to offset the heavy casualties, Dahlquist replied he could only send some engineer personnel October 30th • The Nisei faced opposition of staggering numbers, fighting through a mine field, but continued to batter the encirclement of Germans around the Lost Battalion • Finally, the German position atop Suicide Hill was taken and the German line unraveled • Contact with the Lost Battalion was made and the Nisei rescued 211 of the 275 men who had been trapped • When word reached Dahlquist, he ordered the Nisei to remain in the woods and be prepared to capture the next hill • 442nd unit lost more than 800 troops while rescuing 211 men behind enemy lines • The Nisei were sent into some of the worst battles • Many of them felt that they were considered expendable • General Dahlquist used the Nisei more ruthlessly than his own troops • Some Nisei excuse Dahlquist, but most remember the hundreds of Nisei casualties battling to rescue the 211 Texans who should not have been there in the first place Outcomes Casualties of the Campaign which included the Rescue of the Lost Battalion Casualty Table RHINELANDVOSGES KIA O EM 7 135 DOW O EM 1 17 MIA O EM WIA O EM 4 47 38 824 Minor WIA O EM 22 299 IIA O EM 2 O = Officers EM = Enlisted Men DOW = Died of Wounds Minor WIA = Not hospitalized Wounded in Action IIA = Injured in Action 26 Legacy: Overcoming Prejudice • “The Nisei battled against suspicion, intolerance, and a hatred that was conceived in some dark corner of the American mind and born in the flames that swept Pearl Harbor” • The Nisei proved their loyalty and their bravery • The 442nd Combat Team was one of the most highly decorated units in WWII Truman addresses the Nisei and notes they fought both the enemy and prejudice and won Overcoming Prejudice: In Their Own Words Ben H. Tamashiro (100th Infantry Battalion): “ We were, in fact, Americans in our hearts, and that the color of our skin and the slant of our eyes had nothing to do with it.” Kenneth K. Inada (442nd Regimental Combat Team): “I relish [my] experiences, for I believe that they are the foundations for human relationships that transcend our cultural differences.” Conrad Tsukayama (100th Infantry Battalion): “Our efforts to recue the Lost Battalion in the dense Vosges Mountains of France tested our courage and brought forth the extra cohesiveness of the Nisei soldier.” Lyn Crost (442nd/100th War Correspondent): “They had fought not only a foreign enemy, but also prejudice and suspicion. And they had set the standard for Japanese American soldiers who followed.” Decorations received by the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 21 Medals of Honor (20 awarded on June 1, 2000) 29 Distinguished Service Crosses (including 19 Distinguished Service Crosses which were upgraded to Medals of Honor in June 2000) Over 334 Silver Stars with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters (in lieu of second Silver Star. One Silver Star was Upgraded to a Medal of Honor in June 2000) 7 Presidential Unit Citations 1 Distinguished Service Medal 17 Legion of Merit Medals 15 Soldier's Medals Over 848 Bronze Stars with 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters (in lieu of second Bronze Star)* 1 Air Medal Over 4,000 Purple Hearts 36 Army Commendations 87 Division Commendations Over 20 French Croix de Guerre with 2 Palms (in lieu of a second award) 2 Italian Crosses for Military Valor (Croce Al Merito Di Guerra) 2 Italian Medals for Military Valor (Medaglia De Bronzo Al Valor Militaire) 1 Soldier's Medal (Great Britain) President Barack Obama and his guests, including Senator Inouye, a former member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, applaud after signing S.1055, a bill to grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II, in the Oval Office. Veterans of the 141st Infantry Regiment of the Texas Army National Guard and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team are recognized at the 65th anniversary of the rescue of the "Lost Battalion" in Houston, Nov. 1, 2009. Bibliography The 442nd Regimental Combat Team Historical Society. “The Battle of Bruyeres – ‘Lost Battalion’.” Accessed November 9, 2012. http://www.the442.org/battlehistory/vosges.html Crost, Lyn. Honor By Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1994. Go For Broke: National Education Center. “The Rescue of the Lost Battalion.” Accessed November 9, 2012. http://www.goforbroke.org/history/history_historical_campaigns_re scue.asp Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board. Japanese Eyes, American Heart: Personal Reflections of Hawaii’s World War II Nisei Soldiers. Honolulu: Tendai Educational Foundation, 1998. The Italian Campaign. “WW2 History of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion.” Accessed November 9, 2012. http://www.custermen.com/ItalyWW2/Units/442RCT.htm Yenne, Bill. Rising Sons: The Japanese GIs who Fought for the United States in World War II. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007.