Honoring Japanese American Soldiers

Stamp Our Story

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.

Go For Broke Forever Stamp

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.

Nationally, there will be a virtual ceremony on Thursday, June 3, 2021, at 11 a.m. EDT/8 a.m. PDT. It will be posted on the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Oregon will be hosting a virtual dedication ceremony on June 14th at 5:30pm.

Click here for a link to the Oregon event.

Click here for a flyer about the Oregon event.

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.

3 thoughts on “Honoring Japanese American Soldiers

  1. tl Post author

    I was very moved by the ceremony in Portland.
    Here’s the link to the presentation:

    0:00 Minidoka Swing Band
    3:05 Kerry Tymchuck, executive director of Oregon Historical Society
    5:12 Jeff Selby, US Army Combat Veteran, Master of Ceremonies
    6:40 Yoshiro Tokiwa – 442nd Veteran recognized
    8:15 Former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
    10:55 Video on how the Nisei Stamp came to be
    14:45 Miya Kazuko Ballanger, great-granddaughter of incarceree who went into Military Intelligence
    17:09 Unveiling the stamp
    19:34 OR Governor Kate Brown
    22:05 Remembering the Congressional Gold Medals awarded Japanese American soldiers
    28:45 Linda Tamura introduces the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion
    29:45 Linda introduces Harold Okimoto’s diary read by David Loftus
    32:25 Judy Margles, Dir of Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
    33:40 Linda Tamura introduces the Military Intelligence Service (MIS)
    34:40 Alton Chung depicts Former Rep. Al Olman’s words of tribute to Frank Hachiya
    39:20 Nick Hara memories of grandparents
    40:35 Linda Tamura describes 442nd service and awards and the story of Arthur Iwasaki’s incredible service
    42:20 Ken Yoshikawa portrays Art Iwasaki’s letter to Hillsboro Argus
    44:20 Ricky Kamimai and Grandfather Tom Kamimai tribute to the 442nd
    44:45 Lynn Fujigami Parks, Exec. Director, Japanese American Museum of Oregon
    48:10 Jeff Selby, MC, closes ceremony
    50:15 Portland Taiko

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  2. Pingback: February 19, Day of Remembrance | Finding Ojiisan, Finding Myself

  3. Pingback: Q&A from Japanese American Incarceration | Finding Ojiisan, Finding Myself

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