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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

City honors the 442nd

 

February 5, 2020

Melissa Jenkins

Esther Lilly speaks during Saturday's ceremony. See more photos inside. Voice photo by Melissa Jenkins

Last Saturday was a tremendous day for the City of Three Forks with the unveiling of a bronzed memorial in Veteran's Park dedicated to the men and women of Japanese descent from Three Forks that served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.

Ray Lau VFW Chapter Commander Matt Bugland said the dedication is long past due and is a proper monument to show the world the sacrifices these American patriots made for their country at a time when anti-Japanese sentiment was at its highest.

The memorial was originally erected by the late Navy Veteran Bud Lilly in 2011 and tells the story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. While a memorial for all the Japanese Americans who served in World War II, it honors local Veterans George Oiye, Yokichi Itoh, John Satake, Frank Satake, King Satake and Eileen Satake, a member of the Army Nurse Corps.

Esther Lilly, the wife of Bud, said her husband was so proud of his association with his friends who served with the 442nd who had not been recognized the way they should have.

Three Forks Mayor Sean Gifford said this dedication was long overdue and they were called the greatest generation for a reason.

Guest speaker David Chung, the Senior Vice commander for the Dept. of MT. Military Order of The Purple Heart (MOPH), and Commander for Eastern MT MOPH, Chapter 2016, told a large crowd in attendance the 442nd was the epitome of leadership for the military today.

History

(The Following history of the 442nd Infantry Regiment was read by Bugland during the ceremony).

The 442nd Infantry Regiment is an infantry regiment of the United States Army and is the only infantry formation in the Army Reserve. The regiment is best known for its history as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei) who fought in World War II. Beginning in 1944, the regiment fought primarily in the European Theatre, in particular Italy, southern France, and Germany. Some of the soldiers had families in American internment camps while they fought the Germans and liberated Concentration camps abroad. The unit's motto was "Go for Broke".

The 442nd Regiment is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. Created as the 442nd Regimental Combat Team when it was activated February 1st, 1943, the unit quickly grew to its fighting complement of 4,000 men by April 1943, and an eventual total of about 14,000 men served overall. The unit earned more than 18,000 awards in less than two years, including 9,486 Purple Hearts and 4,000 Bronze Star Medals. The unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations (five earned in one month). Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor. In 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and associated units who served during World War II, and in 2012, all surviving members were made chevaliers of the French Légion d'Honneur for their actions contributing to the liberation of France and their heroic rescue of the Lost Battalion.[8]

Melissa Jenkins

Mayor Sean Gifford speaks at the event.

Arriving in the European Theatre, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, with its three infantry battalions, one artillery battalion and associated HQ and service companies, was attached to the 34th Infantry Division. On 11 June 1944, near Civitavecchia, Italy, the existing 100th Infantry Battalion, another all-Nisei fighting unit which had already been in combat since September 1943, was transferred from the 133rd Infantry Regiment to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Because of its combat record, the 100th was allowed to keep their original designation, with the 442nd renaming its 1st Infantry Battalion as its 100th Infantry Battalion.[ The related 522nd Field Artillery Battalion liberated at least one of the satellite labor camps of Dachau concentration camp and saved survivors of a death march near Waakirchen. (George Ouye was a part of liberating this camp))

The 442nd saw heavy combat during World War II, and was not inactivated until 1946, only to be reactivated as a reserve unit in 1947 and garrisoned at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The 442nd lives on through the 100th Battalion/442nd Infantry Regiment, which has maintained an alignment with the active 25th Infantry Division since a reorganization in 1972. This alignment has resulted in the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment's mobilization for combat duty in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, in which the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. With the 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment the last infantry unit in the Army Reserve, the 442nd's current members carry on the honors and traditions of the historical unit.

 

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