Senator Hasegawa, Representative Santos, Consul General of Japan Yamada, NVC Commander Walt Tanimoto, Gold Star Families, Honored Veterans, family and friends, good morning. On behalf of the current Soldiers of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT whose duty stations are on Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa, Aloha, Hafa Adai and Talofa.
I would like to start by saying thank you. Thank you to the NVC Commander, Walt Tanimoto, and NVC Vice Commander, Michael Yaguchi, and the entire Nisei Veterans Committee for giving me the opportunity to be here this morning. I stand here today, humbled by this opportunity. To stand amongst the men that I call heroes is an incredible, and truly humbling honor.
I would like to speak today on two points, the first being “Go For Broke”, what that means and where it came from, and the second being “Legacy”, and how we as the current members of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT perpetuate the legacy left by our Nisei Veterans.
My name is Joshua Mason, and I am the Command Sergeant Major of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT. I joined the Army Reserve at the age of 17 and became a Military Police Officer at the age of 18. After returning from my first tour in Iraq in 2007, I was asked by LTC Keith Horikawa to join the Battalion as a Platoon Sergeant for the 2008-2009 deployment. I stayed in the Battalion after returning home and ultimately took the Battalion Command Sergeant Major position in March of 2016. I have proudly been the Battalion Command Sergeant Major of the only Infantry Battalion in the Army Reserve.
GO FOR BROKE
I recall very clearly as a young Military Police soldier, seeing Soldiers of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT, walking around Fort DeRussy and Fort Shafter, very confident, disciplined and full of pride. They would pass Officers and while rendering the salute, say “Go For Broke”. It was not until I joined the Battalion and immersed myself in the storied history of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT, that I truly learned what “Go For Broke” meant. It was a phrase used before the start of World War II, usually during games of craps, that one would say, “Go For Broke” ...meaning to wager all of one’s money on a single roll of the dice, or give it all you have.
As the young men of the 442d Regimental Combat Team sat around the barracks of Camp Shelby, Mississippi, craps games were a way to pass the time. The phase, “Go For Broke” caught on, and became the motto for the 442d Regimental Combat Team. It was a motto used by these young men, heroes, during World War II, and is still the motto for today’s 100th BN/ 442d IN RGT. In the Battalion today, “Go For Broke” transcends the simple motto, and has become a way of life, for my Soldiers. The “Go For Broke” spirit is alive in everything we do. From taking a PT test, to weapons qualification, to a promotional board and to Company live fire exercises, my Soldiers and I “Go For Broke”. We keep in mind the sacrifices, the courage, and the honor that the Nisei Veterans who came before us paid dearly for.
PERPETUATING THE LEGACY
As for the current members of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT, we take our legacy very seriously. As the Senior Enlisted Soldier of the 100th BN/442d IN RGT, it is my job to ensure All 633 Soldiers are taught the history of our Battalion upon being assigned to our Organization. Training consists of a 5-day class that covers all aspects of the Battalion history. I start each class by having the Soldiers pull out their smart phones and google search “most decorated Unit in Military history”. This catches a lot of the young Soldiers off guard as they see that their Unit is the most decorated.
I then delve into the bombing of Pearl Harbor, covering the formation of the Varsity Victory Volunteers, signing of Executive Order 9066 and its ramifications, internment camps and what life was like within those camps, the formations and training by the 100th BN Separate as well as the 442d IN Regimental Combat Team. Additionally, the history class covers the Military Intelligence Service and their role in World War II, and covers all major campaigns as fought by the men of the 100th BN and 442d IN RCT. There is an in-depth lesson on all Medal of Honor recipients as well as those killed in action in World War II, Korea, Vietnam as well as those killed in action during the Iraq Campaign.
To conclude the class, the Soldiers are taught the BN song. It is after this class that all Soldiers have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the patch they wear on their left sleeve and the blood that was shed by the men that came before us who also wore that patch. Although the class is only five days, history is taught continually. From the BN office areas, lined with the history of battles on the walls, to the paintings of all of the Medal of Honor recipients, the framed lithograph depicting the rescue of the lost battalion, to the framed original 442d Regimental Colors, history surrounds the present-day Soldiers.
In addition to the history class, the Legacy of our Nisei Veterans is also perpetuated through community service. Monthly, and strictly voluntary, we meet at the various clubhouses of our Nisei Veterans and clean and beautify the area. We also meet at Punchbowl cemetery and clean the headstones and beautify the area around the markers.
My funeral honors team conducts full military honors at funerals for all 100th Battalion (Separate), 442d Regimental Combat Team, MIS and 522d Field Artillery Nisei Veterans. I also deploy a Color Guard team to events where the legacy of our Nisei Veterans is honored. My Color Guard team will be traveling to Maine in June for the commissioning of the USS Daniel Inouye, as well as to France in November for the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Biffontaine and Breyers.
Legacy is perpetuated through an understanding and appreciation of history. It is a promise that I have made to my Soldiers, to my Unit, and to my Country, that I will continue to perpetuate the legacy that was fought for by the Nisei Veterans that came before me. For the men that came before me, I will continue the fight and will always Go For Broke.
In closing, I would like to recognize and humbly thank the Nisei Veterans who served before me. It was these men who are my heroes. It was these men that served with honor, that paved the way so that freedom would be felt worldwide.