Sunday, July 19, 2009

No appropriate title for this one


I am back in Hawaii as of this morning and looking forward to some sleep soon.

In all my hours on the plane, I've finally been reading that history of the 100th battalion and 442nd regimental combat unit (larger than a battalion; in fact the 100th later became part of the 442nd), which were the two units formed during WWII manned almost entirely with Japanese-Americans, about 2/3rds from Hawaii and 1/3rd from the mainland.

Anyway, many of you may have heard of Sen. Inouye who is currently serving his 8th term as the senator from Hawaii, and you may have heard that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in WWII. But now I know what he did to get the medal. Get this:

1945 in Italy. He's a second lieutenant in the 442nd and his unit needs to get up yet another hill defended with German machine gun nests. There were three nests in this case. So he rises up with his tommy gun and grenades and is immediately hit in the stomach. But he keeps moving up, taking one nest out with a grenade, then a second one all by himself with another grenade and the machine gun. He pulls the pin on the third, remember he's already been shot once, but suddenly an enemy grenade with shrapnel takes off most of his right arm. But his grenade is already live because he's pulled the pin. So he reaches down with the one remaining hand, pulls the live grenade out of his own detached hand that is now lying on the ground, and then takes out the third German machine gun nest with it. Then he's shot again in the leg and finally goes down.

By the way, people might also be interested in Young Oak Kim (Yeong-ok Kim). He's from Los Angeles and was a captain in the 442nd and later became a colonel during the Korean War. Fascinating biography in itself. I only knew the WWII stuff, but this guy must be a major figure in the U.S, or should be. Here's the wikipedia bio. And here's a better one, which is his obituary from just three years ago.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Um. Wow. You hear about people winning medals but rarely about the cost. Trying to keep war glamorous, I suppose. That was an amazing story.

Precie said...

That's astounding. Thanks for sharing that incredible story of honor and sacrifice and dedication.