It is through their valor that we take our place as citizens of this great country. Perhaps if it had not been for the urgency of the mission to reach the "lost battalion" casualties would have been lower, but even this is doubtful. For Frank Wada in Company E, liberating Bruyères meant securing a hill west of the town. The 522d Field Artillery Battalion was in direct support, and the 232d Combat Engineer Company played its usual role, lifting mines and reducing blocks so supplies could move. 442nd Facts. Two out of five Hawaiians were Japanese-American. The City of Bruyeres is seeking donations for this project. Hill "D" fell to the 3d on the 19th, and Hill "C," now somewhat in the rear of both the 2d and 3d Battalions had now developed into a bedlam, with large pockets of enemy troops (left on Hill "D" and by-passed in the attack) opening fire on the reserve companies and command posts. They wanted to take me, but I said, ‘not me!’” Three days after they said their good-byes, Pearl Harbor was attacked. You are also invited to come to Bruyères to participate in the rededication of the 1947 monument and the addition of the new element. Their mission: Liberate Bruyères, a small, strategic town on the southwestern German-French border that had been occupied by the Germans since the start of the war. Then the Combat Team pulled back to Docelles, leaving there the following day for Nice. His father had died in internment—a premature loss that visibly pains Wada to this day. Had I gone with them, I’d be in their military, I’d have been your enemy!” He would not see his parents again until 1947. That, after all, is the highest accolade of any regiment of infantry. The wartime events in Northeastern France confirmed the reputation of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team as the fiercest fighting … the regiment now assumed the shape of an arrow, still pointing at the enemy's heart. The 2d Battalion on the right kept pace, driving back two determined counterattacks and launching an attack on Hill "B," second of the four hills. Last Name First Name Unit Rank; Abe: Bill: 2nd BN, E Co. Sgt: Abe: Chester Kengo: 3rd BN, M Co. Pvt: Abe: David Y. In Bruyères, the more than 200 enemy troops the 442nd captured offered a glimpse into the global reaches of the war. But with only three Japanese-American families in his town, Wada said, he had no choice but to adjust: “Who were you going to complain to?”, Working hard and doing well in school made no difference. Activation. There, they were to join the Rome-Arno campaign pushing German troops out of Italy. This task force moved without detection during the night of 20 October to a position in the enemy's left rear. Vosges. The hill fell and the battalion left a hundred enemy dead behind them, taking 55 prisoners. Even as Wada, 97, clears out dozens of bags and boxes of belongings, the children of his deceased comrades continue to send him their own memorabilia for safekeeping. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. In World War II, Bruyères was liberated from German occupation by Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. About 800 of Hawaii’s local Japanese-American community leaders were shipped off to internment prisons on the mainland, but detaining the entire community would have been impossible. 663 likes. On the German side, there were the conscripts from Poland and Russia who had fallen into the hands of the invading Wehrmacht and had met Nazi Germany’s racial standards. The 442nd RCT lost more than 800 troops while rescuing 211 men behind … Biffontaine fell late on the 23d.Rest at Belmont     Twenty-four October, all elements of the Combat Team were relieved by other units of the Texas Division, and withdrawn to the vicinity of Belmont for a rest. All weapons of modern warfare were available but could not be effectively employed. His parents labored on one of Hawaii’s large sugar plantations. Bypassed groups of enemy made supply difficult; in the case of the 100th, it was almost impossible. It was around midnight on an early July night when he heard digging that he knew was the Germans. And then the machine gunners shot at me, and missed me by that much [he says, holding his thumb and forefinger a small distance apart]. The roughly 4,000 civilians of the town spent most of their time hiding in basements. For this action, Companies F and L, with the task force command group, were awarded a Presidential Citation by the War Department.Belmont and Biffontaine     As the attack continued in force, the 2d and 3d Battalions advanced and cleared the hill mass southeast of Belmont. They were surrounded by the enemy and running low on food, and two previous rescue attempts failed. Their bonds stemmed not just from military service, but from connections at home, too. On 14 Oc­to­ber 1944 the 442nd began mov­ing into po­si­tion in the late af­ter­noon prepar­ing the as­sault on Hills A, B, C, and D of Bruyères. Moving quickly, the 3d and 100th Battalions pushed off from Belmont in pitch darkness at 0400, 27 October. Resistance along the railroad embankment had developed somewhat slowly, but when the battalions were in complete contact with the enemy position, the battle mounted in fury. As the word to fix bayonets came down the line, I and K Companies moved forward in the assault, firing from the hip. After leaving Naples, the 442nd landed in Marseille on September 30 and for the next few weeks they would travel 500 miles through the Rhone Valley, by walking and by boxcar, until October 13. Oh man.”, Fast advances didn’t make the loss of friends any easier than bitter yard-for-yard fights, Seki remembers. Oh, that was great, because we’ve only had C and K rations. The 442d launched its attack, battalions abreast, with the 100th on the right. And he wasn’t alone. The impossible had been accomplished.Pushing on After the Lost Battalion     The next day the 100th deployed south to protect the right flank and regimental supply route. Getting Started . L Company of the 3d Battalion had also pushed into the north end of Bruyeres and was proceeding to a linkup with the 143d Infantry, which had attacked the town from the south. Next to Wada fought a former neighbor, an old Kendo partner, a school friend. Liberation of Dachau Subcamps; North Apennines and Po Valley Campaigns: 100th/442nd RCT less 522nd Field Artillery Battalion . “They treated us well. One comrade had his home burnt down, another was refused service at a barber shop. Facing ongoing intolerance and limited opportunities for employment and integration into American society, the Nisei men were anxious to prove their devotion to their country. The 100th is detached from the 442nd from Nov 10-28, 1944 and make their way to Menton in Southern France. An American colonel who has been assisting the U.S. Dept. Fighting went back to the days of America's Indian wars; every tree and every bush were carefully investigated before the troops passed on. The following day, however, the entire Combat Team was ordered into the line in an effort to relieve pressure on the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry. Eventually, the 442nd… The remnants of the enemy force that had so confidently held the positions a short 30 minutes before threw down its arms and fled. Following the capture of Bruyères on October 18th, 1944, Don Seki’s company was tasked with breaking the encirclement of the 1st Battalion of 141st Infantry “Alamo Regiment” from Texas—the so-called “Lost Battalion.” Combat was fierce, lasted to the end of October, and casualties were high. After repeated failures on the part of our troops to secure a foothold across the embankment, it was decided that a direct frontal assault would be too costly.O'Connor Task Force     In line with this decision, the regimental commander formed a task force comprised of Companies F and L, reserve companies of the leading battalions. Don Seki inside the Japanese-American WWII Association building, 2005. The morning of the 13th, the regiment took over holding positions on the division left flank, with the 2d Battalion on line and the 3d Battalion in reserve. Rhineland Campaign-Vosges: 100th/442nd. Company K was commanded by S/Sgt. It would be one of the costliest battles for American forces in World War II. According to the Densho Encyclopedia, the 100th/442nd RCT fought for 10 days to liberate Bruyères and Biffontaine and had barely a days’ worth of rest before being ordered by Gen. John E. Dahlquist to rescue the 275 Texans of the 1st Battalion of the 141st Regiment that were surrounded by German forces. At the time he was shot, he thought, “How am I going to fish now?” He was relieved when rehabilitation and prosthesis training at a hospital in Brigham City, Utah included not just eating and grooming, but horse riding and fishing. It now became evident that, having lost Bruyeres, the enemy was determined to hold this last high ground before the valley running south from St. Here the men washed, drew new clothes and gradually assumed the semblance of human beings again. That was all, because no one else would hire you.”, Halfway across the Pacific on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, second-class citizenship looked very different for Don Seki. In mid-October of 1944, after about a month of combat in Italy, Wada, Seki and the rest of the 442nd were reassigned to support the Seventh Army in the push across the Vosges Mountains west of the Rhine River. For these few days, weather was the worst enemy. While all were American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, few had traveled to Japan or spoke Japanese. The 2d reached the top of the hill and stormed down on the unwary Germans. 442nd regiment facts. We used an Italian kitchen, there was nobody there, a dead war area, we chopped up the chicken, and we got onions, tomatoes, squash and so forth and made chicken soup. By 1000 hours they had passed through the remainder of the 141st, which had been trying to break through to its besieged troops. Chicken, oh man, that guy caught all the chickens, skinned them. Following the trip across from Naples, and a losing battle with wind, rain, and an alien sort of mud that seemed to be largely glue at the staging area near Marseille, the 442d Combat Team moved toward the Seventh Army front not far from Epinal. And while he and his fellow Nisei had earned the respect of many of their fellow veterans, plenty of civilians continued to see them as Japanese. “Go for Broke.”, “The members of the Combat Team made a magnificent record of which they and all Americans should be proud,” wrote Harold Ickes, U.S. secretary of the interior, in an October 1945 letter to the regiment’s commanding officer. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images), After Pearl Harbor: internment camps and martial law. Others served in the Pacific theater with intelligence operations and as linguists interviewing POWs. Like most Americans, Don Seki and Frank Mitoshi Wada remember the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii as a dark day. In October 1944, the battle in the French Vosges Mountains was a true world war. “It was the damndest thing, you know. Though the area was still under shell fire from the enemy's heavy guns, some relaxation was achieved.The Lost Battalion     On the 26th of October, Colonel Pence was directed to relieve the 3d Battalion, 141st Infantry, with one battalion, 442d Infantry, and elected to send the 2d into the line. About one year into his internment, says Wada, Army recruiters visited Poston, asking men like him to volunteer for the 442nd—an all-Nisei regiment. Meanwhile, the 522d zeroed in protective fires, and the 232d Engineers labored day and night to keep the one supply route open, working under fire to lay logs and planks for miles through the sea of mud that had once been a trail. Through it all, they faced difficult terrain, bombed-out roads, near-constant rain and relentless enemy fire and shelling. The terrain was next to impossible, heavily forested and carpeted with a dense growth of underbrush. Four Japanese-American servicemen riding in a jeep, towing a supply trailer on a rural road in France during World War II. A licensed architect has prepared a proposed design based on the shoulder patch of the 100/442nd RCT. But a few local villagers had made their own contribution to the battle, Don Seki remembers: “One kid stayed with us, he helped us pretty good, showed us how the terrain is. Both veterans and their families want to share with the world their collective memories—of the dedication, valor and sacrifice of their Nisei comrades—so they won’t die with them. Consequently, a position that would normally have taken two days to reduce had to be reduced at once. Relief must be effected immediately. The task force sustained only two casualties, so great was the surprise they enjoyed. Conversing in Japanese—their only common language—they became lifelong friends. Fighting in five major campaigns in the European and Mediterranean theaters, and sustaining massive losses, the four-four-two went on to become the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history, receiving more than 18,000 awards for a battalion of 14,000 men over the course of the war. The one below is the one that gets you… It took my arm off, just about… That was the end of my combat career. “We had to keep going, we had to leave them behind, medics took care of them. The engineers withdrew to cover, reorganized, and promptly launched an attack on the defenders, driving them out. While the men regrouped, a platoon of tanks came up; supported by direct fire from the 75s, the troops were able to advance some distance in an attempt at infiltration before they were pinned down by the enemy's relentless small arms and mortar fire. Shortly thereafter, the main bodies linked up. Living in San Diego at the time, he remembered that “we used to go to a football game every Sunday…and then we heard it [the attack] on the radio, and we decided that day to better not go—because this was a Navy town.”. By the time the 442nd had secured the town, only one man in Wada’s squadron remained alive and uninjured. The following day, the 100th launched an attack on Biffontaine, while the other two battalions continued to mop up the recently reduced hill mass. For his part, Frank Wada had no illusions about the perilous position the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor placed him in. Don was almost 18 when his parents gave up on Hawaii. The Battle of Bruyères and the rescue of the "Lost Texas Battalion" is now considered to be one of the ten major military battles fought by the United States Armed Forces. Born in Redlands, California in 1921, Frank Wada remembers being allowed to swim in the public pool only on Mondays, along with the Mexican-American children. “The only white people were our officers,” Wada remembers. “I could see the [German] tank in the town, and it shot in the trees above me and the shrapnel came down like rain.” Wada’s Battle of Bruyères ended that first day, as he was hit in three places. Signing up to fight for the country that imprisoned them. The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, units of the US Army made up of Americans of Japanese ancestry. In the meantime, word had come to the battalion command posts that the situation of the "lost battalion" was becoming desperate. Instead, they lived under martial law and heavy surveillance. After the battalion had passed on, a few enemy diehards cut loose a blast of small arms fire on the engineer party that came forward to remove it causing five casualties. Today, he holds nothing more dearly than a group photo of him with his childhood friends and comrades. The 442nd’s 2nd Battalion was assigned to take Hill B, located north of Bruyeres, and the 3rd Battalion pushed through a valley and into the town. Rome-Arno. In a surprise move three thousand yards to the left rear, the 2d Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel James M. Hanley, had taken an important hill which the enemy had neglected to secure in sufficient strength. To the troops, however, he looked like the enemy; twice, military police escorted him off the Pearl Harbor base at gunpoint. Tsutomu Yoshida, a squad leader (later lieutenant).Relieved     The regiment was relieved on the 8th and moved to the Lepanges area, out of artillery range, on the 8th and 9th. “I graduated Friday, Saturday I was down at the farm. Volunteers. Consequently, when the leading elements were held along the railroad line two kilometers east of Bruyeres, the reserve companies slowly reduced the resistance in the rear. Then, abruptly, the enemy drove the friendly troops off the high ground to the left flank of the 3d Battalion, opening that battalion to two major counterattacks, supported by a Mark IV tank and an armored car. In destroying this enemy, the Combat Team was so badly battered that it was impossible to go on without reinforcements, and these were not forthcoming. They are only comming over for a week but will spend 4 days in Epin Suffice it to say that the 442d Combat Team contributed mightily to the drive of the Seventh Army when its contribution was needed most. The attack launched on the 15th [October] progressed slowly all that day and the next, consisting of a yard by yard advance in the face of a determined enemy. On 14 October 1944 the 442nd began moving into position in the late afternoon preparing the assault on Hills A, B, C, and D of Bruyères. On his long trek through various hospitals, he met a Nisei soldier from Brazil who had lost both legs, probably in Italy. On the morning of the 16th, the 100th Battalion, attacking on the left, had presumably cleared a roadblock. Ceremony october 2011 France Vosges Bruyères with US Army 442rct 100Bn and vétérans and families from Hawaii and California. Hello, Once again our dear 442nd Vets are comming back in the Vosges in July 2009. Don Seki says that his first kill in Italy brought him face to face with the men that shot at him: “Young fellows they were, the Germans. Resistance continued heavy on the 22d, even though the enemy was slowly forced to withdraw. That was the day the city drained and cleaned the basin for the white children to enjoy the rest of the week. 442nd RCT. All elements except the 3d Battalion made the trip by motor [convoy]. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! But it was not a simple homecoming. Digital Archives. Out of high school, Seki was hired for local defense works, digging trenches and building machine-gun nests on the north shore of the island. In the end, more than 30,000 Nisei agreed and served in the armed forces, mostly in Europe. The enemy easily turned back the thrust. “Because there were six, seven different races in Hawaii: Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Chinese…”, A U.S. flag flies at a Japanese-American internment camp in Manzanar, California, 1942. The commanding officer of the 3d Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred A. Pursall, therefore, elected first to turn the enemy's right flank, but the bluff there was so steep that the men could not maneuver or move quickly. Battle History. One machine gun was six feet high, and the one below about three feet. The dead lay where they had fallen, inches from enemy holes, over enemy gun barrels, inside enemy dugouts. But after three days they said…no more trucks…you just get that one suitcase.” Wada still owns the modest suitcase that held everything he was allowed to bring, along with the original internment notice he pulled off the lamppost. When asked what his service and sacrifices in World War II mean to him now, Frank Wada modestly answers, “Nothing.” And yet his Spring Valley, California home is brimming with photos, documents and artifacts from that time, ranging from his original Army shirt and the 442nd regimental banner to a stunningly detailed wooden model he built of the internment barracks where his family was sent to live after Pearl Harbor. Our own artillery was active, and the Cannon Company and 4.2 mortars performed yeoman service, but the Germans were below ground, while our troops were up and moving forwards. Each hill was heav­ily guarded, as each hill was key in order to take and se­cure the city. They were confused to see somebody different.” In fact, military authorities preferred to keep the blinds drawn on troop trains with Nisei recruits out of concern over racial unrest. A librarian can suggest “subject headings” to find the … (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images). It is through their accomplishments that we are here today. The 3d Battalion tried until the 8th to clear the hill to the valley below, finally succeeding in clearing part of it wit the aid of the 2d Battalion's G and E Companies, but the effort was too great. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) was organized on March 23, 1943, after more than a year during which Americans of Japanese descent were declared enemy aliens, 4-C, by the U.S. War Department. These may include names of people and places or historical concepts like eras and movements. The 442nd Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Army.The regiment is best known for its history as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought in World War II.Beginning in 1944, the regiment fought primarily in the European Theatre, in particular Italy, southern France, and Germany. By noon of the 17th, the 100th Battalion had advanced as far as the first of four conical hills that towered over Bruyeres. Here was a situation in which battle craft and the weight of supporting fires were worse than useless. The six-feet high machine gun had tracer bullets. 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