Japanese American Veterans Timeline

In July 1998, Japanese American Veterans held their national convention in Honolulu. In commemoration of this and in connection with a showing of “Witness: Our Brothers’ Keepers — Japanese American and Jewish American GIs,” the Hawaiʻi War Records Depository set up exhibits in Hamilton Library on the main floor and in the Special Collections Department. The exhibit ran from 3 July through 31 July 1998. The following is an adaptation of the time line and large prints exhibited on the main floor of Hamilton.

Staff of the Hawaiʻi War Records Depository express appreciation to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Archives and Learning Center for permission to exhibit and mount here four photographs owned by them; those photographs are acknowledged in the captions accompanying each.  Links in the other photographs lead to the images’ descriptions in the HWRD photo database.

Additional information is available in the Japanese American Veterans Collection.

late 1941

At the time of Pearl Harbor, several Japanese Americans (also known as Americans of Japanese Ancestry or AJAs) served as members of the United States Army (298th and 299th Infantry) and the Territorial Guard.

January / February 1942

AJAs in the 298th and 299th were disarmed, shipped to the Mainland and reorganized as the 100th Infantry Battalion. The Territorial Guard was temporarily dissolved and disarmed, then reactivated minus the Japanese Americans. A group of these AJAs who were largely students at the University of Hawaiʻi organized themselves as the Varsity Victory Volunteers and offered to help the Army in any capacity.
VVV Coprs given a send-off at UH 27 Feb. 1942 VVV Corps [given a send off] At the University of Hawaiʻi Honolulu Advertiser photograph. HWRD no. 0062.

12 June 1942

Upon arrival at Oakland, Calif., the 100th Infantry Battalion was assigned to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, for further training.

June/July 1942

Shortly after arriving at Camp McCoy, approximately 100 men were separated from 100th and, under oath of secrecy, sent to Military Intelligence School (MIS), Camp Savage, Minnesota.


Good record of the 100th at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, and later at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, led to allowing AJAs to volunteer for military.

1 February 1943

Army created the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In response to a call for volunteers, many came forward; some 1300 AJAs from the Mainland and 2500 AJAs from Hawaiʻi were accepted.
AJA volunteers on Iolani Palace Grounds 28 March 1943 AJA Volunteers in ʻIolani Palace Grounds, Honolulu. Honolulu Star Bulletin photograph. HWRD no. 160
AJA volunteers as interpreters, Hilo Armory 9 June 1943 AJA Volunteers as Interpreters, Hilo Armory, Hilo. Unknown photographer. HWRD no. 3849

February 1943

100th Infantry Battalion sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for large-unit training and maneuvers in Mississippi and Louisiana.

July 1943

The 442nd sent to Camp Shelby to begin their training. For a short time the 100th and the 442nd were stationed together.

August 1943

100th Infantry sent overseas after traveling via railroad from Camp Shelby to New Jersey. They arrived in Oran, Algeria, and were attached to the 34th Division, known as the “Red Bull” Division.
Japanese American soldiers in the Anti-tank Company of the Combat Team 19 August 1943 Japanese American soldiers in the Anti-tank Company of the Combat Team ease a gun off the bank of a stream to ferry it across on steel cables at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Courtesy 442nd RCT Archives.

22 September 1943

100th Infantry landed at Salerno, Italy, and marched inland (northward). They met fierce opposition at Volturno and at Monte Cassino.
Lt. John Ko, of the Japanese American Battalion 12 October 1943 Lt. John Ko, of the Japanese American Battalion, 133th [sic], on reconnaissance, preparatory to going into battle against the Germans in Italy. HWRD no. 1452
T/Sgt Herbert Miyasaki, T/Sgt Akiji Yoshimura, Brigadier General Frank Merrill, Burma 1 May 1944 T/Sgt Herbert Miyasaki, Paʻauile [sic], Hawaiʻi (left), and T/Sgt Akiji Yoshimura, Colusa, California, Japanese-American interpreters with Brigadier General Frank Merrill, commander of Infantry troops in Burma, in Noubaum [sic], Burma. Courtesy 442nd RCT Archives.

May / June1944

442nd ordered overseas.

10 June 1944

100th Infantry incorporated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team while retaining its unit designation. The final 442nd RCT consisted of the 2nd, 3rd, and 100th Infantry Battalions; the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion; the 232nd Engineering Company; the 206th Army Band; Anti-Tank Company; Cannon Company; and Service Company.

26 June 1944

442nd RCT began fighting the enemy at Belvedere, Italy.
Comrades-in-arms 12 July 1944 Comrades-in-arms, T/5 William Hirata, Honolulu, 522nd F.A.Bn., 442nd Inf. Reg., 34th Division, and Lorenzo Riba, Italian soldier (right) 11th Pack Mule Co., 34th Div., Fifth Army, Castrellina Sector, Italy. HWRD no. 1440
2nd Lt. Masanao Otake leading his platoon from Orciano, Italy 15 July 1944 2nd Lt. Masanao Otake (who was commissioned in battle), of Lāhainā, leading his platoon from the town of Orciano into the advance on Leghorn, with Fifth Army, Italy. HWRD no. 1435

Summer 1944

442nd RCT participated in the capture of Livorno, Italy, and pushes the German Army north of the Arno River.
Wallace Higa, James Ishimoto, and Jitsuo Kobayashi, Italy 7 August 1944 Wallace Higa of Pāʻia, Maui, James Ishimoto and Jitsuo Kobayashi, both of Honolulu, in mortar crew of 100th Bn., fire into the hills reported to be active with German snipers, Fifth Army, Montenerro, Italy. HWRD no. 1448

August 1944

Anti-Tank Co. of 442nd joined in invasion of southern France, flying in on gliders.

Autumn 1944

442nd RCT sent from Arno River line in Italy to southern France (reconnecting with Anti-Tank Co.) where they traveled up the Rhone River Valley and joined the 36th Division.
S/Sgt James S. Kawashime, France 12 October 1944 S/Sgt James S. Kawashime, Honolulu, stands guard at the 100th Inf. Bn bivouac as the men of the 442nd Combat Team prepare to go into the front lines, Seventh Army, Charmois, France. HWRD no. 1436

19 October 1944

442nd captured the town of Bruyères.

27 October 1944

After a short three-day rest, 442nd ordered to break the German encirclement of the “Lost Battalion.”
Two members of the Free French acting as guides for the Japanese Combat Team in France Prob. 1944 Two members of the Free French act as guides for the men of the Japanese American Combat Team in France; 2nd Lt. Arthur McColl of Chicago stands in front of a jeep driven by Pfc. William I. Soma of Kealia. HWRD no. 1516

Winter 1944/45

522nd Field Artillery detached from main group of 442nd RCT and assigned action in eastern France and southern Germany.

Nov. 1944-Mar 1945

442nd RCT patrolled the French-Italian border.
Farmhouse at Sospel, France Prob 1944 Farmhouse at Sospel, France, photograph attributed to Kay Ihara. Courtesy 442nd RCT Archive.

Mar 1945

442nd returned to Italy in front of the Gothic Line.

5 April 1945

442nd conducted a surprise attack against the flank by climbing an almost vertical mountainside for several hours in the predawn. After attaining the top of the hills they captured two German outposts within slightly more than thirty minutes. The breached a line that had withstood allied attack for six months. The German rout in Northern Italy ensued.

May 1945

The 522nd Field Artillery participated in the liberation of Dachau, a short distance northwest of Munich.
Mrs. Kuni Sakamoto receive Bronze Star Medal, awarded posthumously to her son 27 March 1946 Mrs. Kuni Sakamoto receives the Bronze Star Medal, posthumously awarded to her son, Pvt. Robert I. Sakamoto, for outstanding bravery in battle, from Chaplain H. Olds (Col.), Chaplain, MIDPAC, with Chaplain R.G. Pickhardt (Capt.) HWRD no. 1534
Just released Dachau prisoners in Waakirchen, Germany Late April 1945 Just released Dachau prisoners in Waakirchen, Germany, photograph by Nobuo Takamori, HQ, 522nd F.A.Battalion. Courtesy 442nd RCT Archive.

8 May 1945

VE Day: Germany surrendered.
Pfc. Genzo Toguchi and Sgt. Seisaburo 18 May 1945 Pfc. Genzo Toguchi and Sgt Seisaburo Taba, both of HQ Co., 100th Bn, 442nd Infantry Regiment, both from Honolulu, inspect a German horse-drawn field kitchen brought to Fifth Army Enemy Concentration Area, Brescia, Italy. HWRD no. 1445

August 1945

VJ Day: Japan surrendered, ending official war.
Members of the 442nd Combat Team on Waterbury Victory 9 August 1946 Members of the 442nd Combat Team line the rail of the transport Waterbury Victory as it pulls into port of Honolulu. HWRD no. 1504
Crowds at Iolani Palace Grounds welcome men of 442nd Combat Team 9 August 1946 Crowd at ʻIolani Palace Grounds to welcome the men of the 442nd Combat Team. HWRD no. 1501
Sgt. Shigeh Fukuda of 442nd RCT and his girl, Miss Edna Ota, look at discharge papers 15 August 1946 Sgt Shigeh Fukuda, Kaneohe, of 442nd RCT, and his girl, Miss Edna Ota, look at discharge papers [at celebration to honor veterans], Honolulu. HWRD no. 1488

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