Congress Votes for Gold Medal for Nisei Veterans

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The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is one of the most decorated regiments in U.S. history.

WASHINGTON.—The U.S. Senate on Monday passed legislation that would grant a collective Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) of the United States Army, in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.

The legislation was introduced by California Sen. Barbara Boxer, following introduction of companion legislation last year by Rep. Adam Schiff in the House. Since then, the legislation has been amended, so it will return to the House for final passage before heading to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’ highest civilian honor.  Before it can be presented for vote, two-thirds of both the House and Senate are required to sign on as cosponsors. Last year, Congress bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on golfer Arnold Palmer, Women Airforce Service Pilots, and Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and John Glenn.

“I am so pleased that the Senate is honoring these courageous soldiers with a Congressional Gold Medal for their service to the United States during World War II. These brave Japanese Americans enlisted in the Army and fought for their country even as many of their family members and friends were sent to internment camps. This recognition of their service and patriotism is long overdue,” said Boxer.

Commonly known as the Go For Broke regiments, the 100th/442nd is the most highly decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history.  Among the many  awards and distinctions earned through the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers of these units are:  7 Presidential
Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts.

The contributions of the 6,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in the highly classified MIS were not known until passage of the Freedom of Information Act in 1974.  Their work proved to be vital to U.S. military successes in the Pacific Theatre, from China to Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima to
Leyte, and in occupied Japan.  The MIS has been credited with shortening the war in the Pacific and saving countless Allied lives.  President Bill Clinton honored the MIS with a Presidential Unit Citation in 2000.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and passed last year by a vote of 411-0.

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