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The Incredible Story Of The Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Division Who Fought For The USA During WWII! The Academy Award Nominated 1951 War Film Classic Starring Van Johnson And Actual Veterans Of The 442nd!
Historical films of the golden age of Hollywood period were not so keen on historical accuracy as they were on entertainment value. If the story was about an uncomfortable subject, it needed to have a happy ending, and especially if it was a World War II film, it had to depict diversity among Americans as starting points from which to come together from all cultural points towards a pro-American center. In this film, all three of these factors are in play in this moving and remarkable story about Japanese-Americans who not only fought so bravely and well for America while America imprisoned those of Japanese ancestry on her west coast, but who achieved all this while being disrespected on the battlefields by some of their fellow Americans in arms and some of their white leadership. This story is told through the vehicle of the 442nd Infantry Division, whose motto was "Go For Broke!" (Japanese Pidgin English for "Shoot The Works!" or "Give It All You've Got!"), made up entirely of Japanese-American volunteer combat soldiers under the command of white officers, who fought in Italy and France with such distinction that they became the most highly decorated military regiment in American history, including an astounding 21 Medal of Honor recipients, 7 Presidential Unit Citations, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters, 22 Legion of Merit Medals, 15 Soldier’s Medals, 4,000 Bronze Stars with 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters, and 9,486 Purple Hearts. How does a unit get the opportunity to win so many awards? Merit, certainly - but also, constant combat employment, sometimes under conditions only the greatest heroism could hope to overcome. These combat conditions are portrayed in the film faithfully enough, however it leaves unmentioned one of the great controversies of American military history - the overuse of the 442nd by General John Ernest Dahlquist, who stubbornly and tragically sent these men into sometimes impossible situations, most famously to save the 141st Infantry's 1st Battalion, aka "The Lost Battalion", who were cut-off outside the French town of St. Die in October 1944 as a result of Dahlquists' questionable strategy. The sacrifice these Japanese-American troops made to save "The Lost Battalioin" were awesome, indeed heartbraking, and it is to their further credit and glory, as well as to the white officers who lead them, that no men were more vocal in their outrage against General Dahlquist for this disgrace than their white officers, bringing them to tears during military reviews and resulting in some of these white officers refusing to speak to or shake the hand of Dahlquist for the rest of their lives. Such inspiring quiet strength is a hallmark of Japanese character, and nowhere was it more nobly exercised by the Japanese-American 442nd, as you will see movingly portrayed in this film by a cast who in some cases were playing themselves as veterans of 442nd. You'll meet Tommy, the good Honolulu kid whose heart is his greatest asset; Chick, a wise-cracking tough chicken farm worker from Iowa; Kaz, the singing, dancing and ukelele playing "Kanaka" who actually co-wrote the song "The Meaning of Love" used in the film; Frank, the bespectacled USC graduate who couldn't get a job as an architect because, as Chick put it, he didn't have "corrective glasses to take the slant out of your eyes"; and Sam, the good man every mother wants to have as a son and who earns that respect both through sensitivity to those who need him and by great combat bravery. All of their stories are inspiring indeed, but you'll be especially moved by Tommy, whose loss of his family during the Pearl Harbor attack made him even more compassionate to the suffering of others while at the same time fighting the enemy with all his strength. Do not be surprised if you shed a tear for Tommy and for his compatriots as well. (Black and White, 1:31).
442nd Unit Fight Song
Four-Forty-Second Infantry— We're the boys of Hawai'i nei— We'll fight for you And the Red, White and Blue, And go to the front... And back to Honolulu-lulu. Fighting for dear old Uncle Sam Go for broke! HOOH! We don't give a damn! We'll round up the Huns At the point of our guns, And vict'ry will be ours! GO FOR BROKE! FOUR-FOUR-TWO! GO FOR BROKE! FOUR-FOUR-TWO! And vict'ry will be ours!
Nominated, Academy Awards, Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Robert Pirosh)
Van Johnson ... Lt. Michael Grayson
Lane Nakano ... Sam
George Miki ... Chick
Akira Fukunaga ... Frank
Ken K. Okamoto ... Kaz
Henry Oyasato ... Ohhara
Harry Hamada ... Masami
Henry Nakamura ... Tommy
Warner Anderson ... Col. Charles W. Pence
Don Haggerty ... Sgt. Wilson I. Culley
Gianna Maria Canale ... Rosina (as Gianna Canale)
Dan Riss ... Capt. Solari
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