On Thursday, June 3, 2021, the U.S. Postal Service will be issuing a new “Go For Broke” stamp honoring Nisei (first generation Japanese-Americans born in the U.S.) soldiers who served in World War II. These soldiers served in both the European and Pacific theaters.
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team
The famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was, “Go For Broke,” a unit totaling 18,000 men, earned over 4,000 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars, 560 Silver Star Medals, 21 Medals of Honor, and seven Presidential Unit Citations. It remains the most decorated unit for its size in U.S. military history.
Their sacrifices were extreme. During the six days the 442nd fought the Germans to rescue the “Lost Battalion,” 221 men of the 141st Infantry Regiment in the Vosges Mountains, more than 30 men were killed and many more hospitalized. “The campaign resulted in a staggering number of casualties, estimated at more than 800.”
On November 12, [Major General] Dahlquist ordered the 442nd to assemble for a recognition ceremony. Seeing the small number of men in formation, he allegedly reprimanded 442nd Lieutenant Colonel Virgil Miller, stating, “You disobeyed my orders. I told you to have the whole regiment.” The colonel looked him in the eye and reportedly said, “General, this is the regiment. The rest are either dead or in the hospital.”
– Go For Broke National Education Center
Although the 442nd is well-known (and justifiably so), many are unaware of the role Japanese-Americans played in the Pacific theater. Thousands, including four of my uncles served, many in military intelligence, helping with translation, decoding messages, and interrogating prisoners.
Major General Charles Willoughby, G2 Intelligence Chief for General Douglas MacArthur, credits Nisei soldiers, saying they “shortened the Pacific war by two years.”
Congressional Gold Medals
For their service, after many years of effort, Congressional Gold Medals were awarded Nisei solders in 2012. By then, many if not most of the veterans honored had passed away. Here is the medal awarded my uncle Gene:
“Go For Broke” Stamp Ceremonies
Now that the U.S. Postal Service will be issuing a new stamp honoring Nisei soldiers, dedication events will be taking place all around the country.
Oregon will be hosting a virtual dedication ceremony on June 14th at 5:30pm.
Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, four generations of Japanese Americans, and vignettes of Oregon Nisei military service will be part of the ceremony.
My brother, David, will be included in a two-minute video reading letters from Sgt. Harold “Oki” Okimoto, a Japanese-American soldier among those who liberated Dachau.
Buying These Stamps
Although these stamps will be released on June 3rd, they may not be available to purchase at your local post office immediately.
If you are interested in pre-ordering stamps, you can do so online by clicking here.
Stamp collectors and those who are especially interested in this history can order First Day Cover collectible stamps at the same location. These can make great gifts and are quite affordable.
And for those who are ambivalent about all of this, consider buying the stamps anyway. These are “Forever Stamps,” and the USPS has plans to raise postage rates this fall. Buy these stamps now and you can save on future postage.