Senator Hasegawa, Representative Santos, Senior Assistant Consul General Tojo, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force LTC Takagi, NVC Commander Walt Tanimoto, Honored Veterans, family, and friends -- Good Afternoon and Aloha.
Thank you very much for inviting me here today and congratulations in advance to the newly appointed officers of the Nisei Veterans Committee as well as the scholarship recipients. I want to especially thank Walt Tanimoto, Mike Yaguchi, and everyone from the NVC for bringing me out here to your wonderful city.
This is an incredible honor for me to not just attend this luncheon, but to stand here in front of you as a speaker. I am just an average Soldier who served like many others and did my small part in the National Guard and Reserve. So, to be here in front of you, especially among the Nisei heroes I admire so much and the many other distinguished veterans here today, is really an incredible and humbling honor.
Background and Nisei Connection
If you don’t mind, I’ll quickly introduce myself and provide a little of my background. My name is Keith Horikawa, and I’m a Sansei from Wahiawa, Hawaii. My father Louis grew up in Honolulu and was a childhood friend of the late Senator Inouye. My dad was also an MIS Soldier during the war. After attending the MIS language school at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and the Presidio of San Francisco, he served as a linguist in the 674th Field Artillery Battalion of the 11th Airborne Division and completed his service in Sendai, Japan, during the occupation. One of my Uncles, George Sakihara, also served as a cook in M Company, 3d Battalion, 442d throughout the war. Perhaps some of you crossed paths with my dad or Uncle George at some point.
Besides my dad and uncle, I also have my own connection to the Nisei military legacy. Although I’m a Field Artillery officer, I was very fortunate to have served as the Executive Officer of the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry in the Army Reserves from 2007 to 2011, and as Commander of the 100th for the following two years.
During that time, I completed my 2nd wartime deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when the 100th deployed with the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Hawaii. I was also the battalion commander in 2011 when we provided Color Guard and logistical support to the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Washington, D.C.
My goal today is to provide some background of the current 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry, US Army Reserve, and to talk a little about the Soldiers who have served in the battalion over the years.
Mike Yaguchi also asked me to talk about how the current 100th – 442d Infantry accomplishes its missions in light of the battalion’s combat legacy during WWII. But first I’d like to briefly talk about how the original 442d Regimental Combat Team—to include of course the 100th Battalion—deactivated after World War II and was brought back a few years later as a unit in the Army Reserve.
100th - 442d Infantry Deactivation and Reactivation in the US Army Reserve
As you know, World War II officially ended on September 2d, 1945 following Germany’s surrender in May of that year and Japan’s surrender on August 15th.
The 442d’s 2d Battalion was inactivated on February 10th, 1946 in Italy, while the rest of the regiment, to include the 100th BN, was inactivated on August 15th, 1946 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- On July 31st, 1947, the 442d Infantry Regiment was reactivated into what was then called the Organized Reserves with its Headquarters at Fort DeRussy, Hawaii. The regiment’s first commander as a reserve unit was COL Harry Albright.
- In 1952, the Organized Reserves was re-designated as the Army Reserve and in 1959, the regiment was renamed the 100th Battle Group, 442d Infantry.
- As an interesting side note, the commander of the 100th Battle Group in 1961 was a COL named Henry “Hank” Oyasato, who also served in F Company, 2d Battalion during the War. Hank Oyasato also played “First Sergeant Ohara” in the original Go For Broke movie starring Van Johnson.
- In 1964, the 100th Battle Group was reorganized and re-designated as the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry Regiment.
- On May 13th, 1968, the 100th was ordered into active service to provide individual replacements during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, nine Soldiers of the 100-442 were killed in action in Vietnam while attached to various active duty units:
- SSG Melvin Fujita, Headquarters Cmpany
- SSG Rbert Spillner, C Company
- SP4 Anthny Bongo, A Company
- SP4 Lenard Castillo, A Company
- SP4 Larry Lepoldino, B Company
- SP4 Cliffrd Taira, Headquarters Company
- SPC Alfred Pacolba, A Company
- PFC Rdney Fukunaga, B Company, and
- PFC Dennis Silveri, B Cmpany.
Go For Broke
- The 100-442 reverted back to reserve status on December 12th, 1969.
- The 442d as a regiment exists in name only under the Army’s Regimental System, and only the 100th Battalion remains as an actual unit; the 2d Battalion, 3d Battalion, 522d Field Artillery, 232d Engineers, and other specialty units of the original 442d remain deactivated.
- Currently, the 100th Battalion consists of Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), D Company, and the 740th Forward Support Company in Fort Shafter, Hawaii; B and C Companies in Pago Pago, American Samoa; and E Company in Guam and Saipan.
- In 2004, the 100th BN was ordered into active service and deployed to Iraq the following year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III as part of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Hawaii Army National Guard. [Incidentally, the 29th IBCT replaced the Washington National Guard’s 81st IBCT, which performed brilliantly and set the conditions for the 29th IBCT’s success in theater.]
- During this deployment, the 100th was assigned to the Balad area of Iraq operating out of LSA Anaconda. Five Soldiers assigned or attached to the 100th battalion were killed in action:
- SSG Frank Tiai, Charlie Cmpany
- SSG Wilgene Liet, Echo Company
- CPL Derence Jack, Ech Company
- SGT Deysn Cariaga, attached to Charlie Company from the 229th MI cmpany, and
- SGT Evan Parker, attached t Delta Company from the 1-487th Field Artillery.
Go For Broke
- The battalion redeployed in 2006.
- In 2007, a platoon from D Company, 100th BN, deployed to the Jolo region of the Philippines for a 9-month mission in support of counter insurgency operations with US Army Special Forces.
- In 2008, the 100th BN was again ordered to active service for deployment to Iraq. This time, the 100th BN was reorganized as a Motorized Infantry Battalion and performed over 1500 combat escort missions covering approximately 1.3 million miles throughout Iraq.
- During this deployment, however, we did lose two Soldiers:
- SSG Julian Manglna, Echo Company, and
- CPL Casey Hills, Charlie Cmpany.
Go For Broke
The 100th BN Today
I’m proud to report that the 100th BN today is a strong, relevant organization in the modern Army. The battalion has the latest in weapons, equipment, and technology; has served and fought overseas in the Global War on Terror; and continues to participate actively throughout the Pacific Theater in exercises in Malaysia, the Philippines, Korea, and New Caledonia to name a few. Most notably, the current 100th BN is a manifestation of what the Nisei Soldier fought for in WWII—equality and fairness.
What was once a segregated unit made up of Japanese American Soldiers is now one of the most racially and culturally diverse organizations in the Army. The BN is spread out across the Pacific with units in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. Throughout our ranks are Soldiers—men and women—of every imaginable racial and ethnic background who proudly live and Soldier by the words, “Go For Broke.”
I can personally attest to the fact that today’s Soldiers of the 100th know the battalion’s WWII history intimately; sing the 442d fight song powerfully; and participate in Nisei veterans events, clubhouse cleanups, and, sadly, Nisei veteran funerals on a routine basis.
I have served in various units in the National Guard and Army Reserve over the past 28 years and can honestly say that the 100th BN Soldiers are a special breed—they’re a more confident, competent, yet humble group than other units. They have a certain can-do attitude that can only be described as the Go For Broke spirit. To a Soldier all have a deep pride in the regiment’s continuing history from WWII and strive to maintain the legacy and honor of the 442d.
Finally, I’d like to recognize and humbly thank our Nisei predecessors—the original members of the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry Regiment, Military Intelligence Service, and others who served in various capacities. You are the heroes who did so much for not only Japanese Americans, but for the country and really the entire world during World War II. You gave the future generations the priceless gift of freedom and equality.
Because of you I am able to proudly serve on a level playing field in both my military and civilian careers. Because of you, the 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry continues to thrive as the only remaining combat unit in the US Army Reserve. On a personal note, thank you for everything you have done for my family and me. I am a proud, productive American because of you. Okage sama de [お蔭様で]. Go For Broke!