MONTEREY — Nisei Memorial Post 1629 Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Japanese American Citizens League of the Monterey Peninsula are co-sponsoring a presentation ceremony to honor local veterans of the famed 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service (100/442/MIS) of World War II who were unable to attend the Nov. 2, 2011 Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
The local ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 4, at the JACL Hall, 424 Adams St., Monterey.
The 100th/442nd remains the most decorated unit in the history of the U.S. military for its size and length of service with over 18,000 individual awards. The unit and its members have earned 21 Congressional Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 22 Legions of Merit, 5,200 Bronze Stars, and 9,400 Purple Hearts.
They distinguished themselves in action from the time that they joined the war in April 1943 until the war ended in May 1945. One of the battles they are most known for is the rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” in which the 442nd amassed 800 casualties to rescue 211 men of the 136th Texas Division from behind enemy lines. It is ranked among the top 10 significant battles in U.S. Army history.
The MIS was Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s secret weapon in the Pacific. The Nisei linguists translated captured documents, interrogated prisoners and intercepted radio transmissions. The general commented, “Never before in the history of warfare has one combatant known so much about its enemy in advance of engagement than the Allies in the Pacific War.”
Gen. Charles Willoughby, MacArthur’s chief of intelligence, stated that the MIS shortened the war by two years and saved millions of lives.
Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal can honor a particular individual, institution, or event. The U.S. Mint designs a unique medal to commemorate the achievement of the recipient. There have been 147 Congressional Gold Medal recipients to date.