News

World War II 'Lost Battalion' Veterans Reunite

World War II 'Lost Battalion' Veterans Reunite
World War II 'Lost Battalion' Veterans Reunite

Multimedia

Audio
<!-- IMAGE -->

In late October, 1944 the First Battalion of the U.S. 141st Infantry Regiment, comprised mostly of men from the Texas National Guard, broke through German lines in northeastern France and then found themselves cut off and surrounded by the enemy. They became known as "The Lost Battalion" and would have all died had it not been for the heroic rescue operation carried out by the mostly Japanese-American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Around 40 aging veterans from both units came together in Houston on November first for what may be the last time.

The veterans, all in their 80's and 90's now, and their families came from all around the country for this 65th Anniversary event, sponsored by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. On hand to greet them was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who posed for photos with each veteran and hailed their courage and their contribution to U.S. history.

"You represent such a special group of that very special generation and the courage, the valor, the heroism," said Admiral Mullen.

<!-- IMAGE -->

Among those present was 88-year-old George Sakato, who wore the Congressional Medal of Honor he was awarded for his part in the battle to rescue the trapped soldiers. He says he must have had ten lives to have survived the war.

"I have been blown up three or four times, three times, and I have been shot at I do not know how many times and then I had diphtheria, measles and pneumonia," said George Sakato.

The mostly Japanese-American 442nd took heavy casualties and Sakato says he lost one of his best friends when the Germans counterattacked.

"I crawled over and he died in my arms and I just lost it [became angry] and I figured I would get the s.o.b [son of a bitch] who shot him or die trying," he said.

Among the more than 200 men Sakato and his fellow soldiers helped rescue was Jack Wilson, who is now 85-years-old.

"If it had not been for them, I would not be here today," said Jack Wilson.

Wilson says the dedication of the Japanese American soldiers was all the more remarkable given the fact that they had left behind their families in internment camps where the U.S. government had placed them out of fear that they might help Japan.

"They put them in these internment camps," he said. "They lost their homes, a lot of them did. They lost everything they had but the clothes on their back."

Wilson says these men demonstrated their loyalty and their effectiveness as fighters.

"They had something to prove and they proved it," said Wilson. "They proved they were good Americans."

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that provided reparations to Japanese Americans interned during the war. There is also a memorial dedicated to the patriotism and courage of the Japanse-American soldiers in Washington, DC.

But men like 85-year-old Don Seki, who lost an arm to a burst of machine-gun fire, play-down his own heroism in helping to rescue the "Lost Battalion."

"We had to do it," said Don Seki. "Somebody had to do it, so we went all out. That is our motto - shoot the works, go for broke."

Seki says that was a spirit inculcated in Japanese-American children by their parents.

"The way we were brought up, you cannot let your country down or your family down," he said.

Seki's 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated unit in US military history for its size and length of service. While their bodies have now become frail with age, they maintain that patriotic spirit and they never forget the men who were unable to come home.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs