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Daily Kos: Memo Reveals What U.S. Army Thought of Its Japanese American Soldiers in WWII

posted by Randall

442nd InfantryThe Daily Kos published the memo below issued by the U.S. Army about the men fighting in the 442 Infantry.

HEADQUARTERS 92D INFANTRY DIVISION
APO 92 U. S. ARMY

4 April 1945

SUBJECT: Facts concerning 442 Infantry

TO: : Organization Commanders

1. Below are listed some facts and statistics concerning the 442d Infantry. It is desired that paragraphs 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 be disseminated throughout your organization, in such a manner as not to breach the security of their present situation.

1. The 442d Combat Team was activated in February 1943. The enlisted personnel was composed entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Having been born in the United States, all of the men are citizens of the United States. Very few of them have ever been to Japan and most of them cannot speak Japanese. They are as thoroughly loyal as German Americans, Italian Americans, or any other American of foreign ancestry. A category, of course, into which all of us fall.

2. The original cadre was composed of men already in the service in the States. The fillers were all volunteers.

3. The men proved from the beginning to be willing, conscientious, loyal, and anxious to prove their devotion to their country. The officers found them intelligent and zealous in learning and in the performance of their military duties.

4. In their personal characteristics the men are shy, self-effacing, extremely polite, and personally clean. They are cheerful and anxious to do what is expected of them. Orders are habitually carried out without question.

5. We must always treat the men just as we would treat any other group of American soldiers. There have been occasional clashes with white American soldiers, but brought on by some unthinking individual who referred to them as “Japs,” or “yellow-bellied so and sos.” Such difficulties, however, never last beyond the time the men get well acquainted. We count among our particular friends these units with which we have trained or with which we have fought. Of these are many American divisions that have the highest regard for the men of this unit both as individuals and as a group.

6. Two of their outstanding combat characteristics, it is believed are, first, that they will never leave a cut-off individual or unit, and, secondly, that they all get up and move forward at “zero hour.”

7. They do not like to be called “Japs” or “Jap Americans.” They are either soldiers or Japanese Americans (without the hyphen) or Americans of Japanese ancestry; among themselves often “Buddaheads.”

8. They are patient in combat, and, like all good soldiers cannot be hurried into a dangerous situation. It is usually better to allow the squad or platoon to work out its own method of dealing with a particular situation — and they will if there is any way to do so.

You can read the story of one of the men of the 442 in the Daily Kos.

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