Just last week, as my cousin and I were talking about the story of his father’s service during World War II, (“Hyphenated Americans” in the anthology, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors,) he told me he was pretty sure Senator Daniel Inouye fought in the same platoon as his dad–the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Company E. A comparison of the Statement of Senator Inouye’s passing from the senator’s office with the Recommendation of Award from my uncle’s scrapbook confirms this:
Excerpt from the Statement from Senator Daniel Inouye’s office:
Senator Inouye began his career in public service at the age of 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He served with ‘E’ company of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, a group consisting entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Senator Inouye lost his arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy on April 21, 1945. His actions during that battle earned him the Medal of Honor.
Excerpt from a Recommendation for the Bronze Star for my Uncle Yoshio:
To: Commanding Officer, 442nd Regimental Combat Team
1. Under the provisions of Army Regulations 600-45, as amended, it is recommended that Yoshio Sasaki, Sgt., Co E, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Infantry be awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
2. On 23 April 1945, the third platoon of Company E was the leading element of the attack on San Terenzo, Italy. Although they received some enemy fire, the platoon entered the lower sector of the town and made an encircling movement around the hill to engage the enemy from the rear.
Sgt. Sasaki left his position of comparative safety and ran 25 yards in the face of intense enemy fire to aid the wounded man. Despite bullets whizzing by him constantly, Sgt. Sasaki administered first aid and dragged his wounded comrade to covered position. After making the wounded man as comfortable as possible, Sgt. Sasaki resumed firing at the enemy.
Because of his courage and fearless action with disregard for his personal safety, the wounded man was spared much suffering and later safely evacuated to an aid station.
Senator Daniel Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in San Terenzo, Italy on April 21, 1945. My uncle was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions in San Terenzo, Italy on April 23, 1945. Learning that my uncle and Senator Inouye served together was but one more fascinating detail I learned as a result of writing The Red Kimono.
In the following video, I was struck by what Senator Inouye’s father said as he saw his son off to war from a port in Hawaii:
“This country has been good to us. It has given me two jobs. It has given you and your brothers and your sister an education. We owe a lot to this country. Do not dishonor this country. Above all, do not dishonor the family. And if you must die, die in honor.”
Senator Daniel Inouye passed away on Monday, December 17, 2012 after eight decades of public service. His father would be proud.
Aloha, Senator Inouye. Thank you for your service. May you rest in peace.