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Wednesday, June 21, 2000

The nisei soldier

The nisei (second generation Japanese American) soldiers of the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) were much like other American GIs -- they ate K-rations and cursed its inventor, and smoked Lucky Strikes and Camels. But they were different, too. They stood an average 5-feet, 4-inches tall, well below the average GI; they weighed, on average, just 125 pounds, had 26-inch waists and 13-inch necks. During their toughest fight at Cassino, Italy, German soldiers spotted them from a distance and thought children had been sent into battle. But the men of the 100th/442nd proved themselves on the battlefield and earned their opponents' and fellow soldiers' respect and honor.

Sources: The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii; Hawaii Historic Arms Association; "Go For Broke" by Chester Tanaka; "I Can Never Forget" by Thelma Chang; "Bridges of Love" by John Tsukano; "World War II Infantry in Color Photographs" by Laurent Mirouze; uniform and gear provided by Alvin Yoshitomi; uniform modeled by Ken Ige.

All Hawaii Medal of Honor recipients will be represented in the Gallery of Heroes display at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii in Waikiki.

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