A.G. “Agie” Harada, a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran, was one of 10 World War II veterans to receive the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) from the French government at a ceremony at the American Legion Pacific Palisades Post 283 on March 9.
The award, presented by Consul General Christophe Lemoine, is the highest honor bestowed by France upon its citizens and foreign nationals.
Private First Class Harada was born in Grant, Idaho in January 1924 to Japanese immigrant parents and grew up in the area, working in farming.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army in June 1944 at Ft. Douglas in Utah and was sent to Camp Blanding in Florida for basic training, which was cut short due to an urgent need for replacements. In January 1945 he joined the 100th Battalion of the 442nd in southern France as a scout, mortar operator and truck driver. His military actions included the Northern Apennines, Po Valley, and Rhineland campaigns in France and Italy.
His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, and Army of Occupation Medal.
The 442nd suffered the most casualties and was the most decorated unit of its size in all of World War II. In November 2011 the 442nd, along with the 100th Battalion and Military Intelligence Service, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal at a special ceremony held at the U.S. Capitol.
After the war, Harada went back into farming in Idaho and later had a long career there with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a potato inspector, retiring in 1995.
He and his late wife Violet have three children, Steven, Norman and Violet, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He currently resides in Orange with his daughter and has enjoyed fishing and hiking in his leisure time.
Others honored at the ceremony were: Lt. Col. Albert E. Templin, USAF (ret), Capt. Charles A. Lewis, Master Sgt. Robert D. Hall, Staff Sgt. Leo Levitan, Staff Sgt. George B. Underwood, Sgt. Thomas J. Tugend, PFC Richard C. Lavelle, PFC Floyd R. Ross, and PFC Jerry C. Spellman.