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The Purple Heart Battalion

As I was doing research for my next eBook, “Talking Flags” – A History of the US Army Signal Corps, I became aware the United States Army formed a segregated battalion of Japanese Americans who served valiantly during WWII.

 

They were designated the 100th Battalion and were formed during a time of great fear of the Japanese, both in Hawaii as well as our mainland. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, there was widespread apprehension that an invasion of Hawaii might soon follow. Residents of Japanese ancestry was viewed with suspicion and even hatred by many Americans at the time.

 

The predecessor to this new battalion was the Hawaiian Provisional Infantry Battalion, established in 1942. It was a radically segregated unit comprised mostly of Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) who had been serving in the Hawaii National Guard. The new battalion would undergo extensive training in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Louisiana for over a year. At the same time, government and military officials attempted to figure out what to do with these soldiers.


The organization would become a legendary combat unit during 20 months in Europe (September 1943 to May 1945) and continued to fight until Germany surrendered.


Because of the high rate of casualties the battalion sustained, it became known as the “Purple Heart Battalion.”


They were motivated by a common goal – to prove their loyalty. The men selected for their motto “Remember Pearl Harbor,” indicating their outrage at the attack on their country—the United States. - Compiled from multiple sources




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