PUNCHBOWL (HawaiiNewsNow) - Arguably, the most decorated unit in the U.S. Army will soon receive the nation's highest non-military honor; and Sunday morning, the Japanese-American heroes of the fighting 442nd were remembered at a service on Oahu.
"War is scary, really scary, scary".
These were sentiments often overheard from war veterans. Takamori Miyagi served during World War II as part of the famed 442nd during the last campaign.
He was part of a legion of over 10,000 volunteers from Hawaii during the second World War.
Now in its fifth year, the Oahu AJA Veterans Council held a memorial to honor the fallen members of the four principle AJA units in World War II.
The 100th infantry battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.
The units, made up of many American born soldiers of Japanese ancestry, are known not only for their heroics in many battles, "four thousand bronze stars to become the most decorated unit in the United States Army", but they are also known for their heavy losses, the 100th came to be known as the purple heart battalion. Over 10,000 purple hearts were awarded to the four units.
At the start of the war, Takamori was kicked out of the merchant marines, being of Japanese descent, many Hawaii-born Americans faced discrimination.
"Then I volunteered for the Navy but they said we don't take Japs", said Miyagi.
Another war veteran at the memorial, Tommy Tanaka, tells of the day he was wounded and couldn't get medical help.
"The sergeant went around and told them put them in this that and when he came to me he looked at me and said, throw that damn gook in the gook hospital, that's what he told me and this is what I said, I'm no damn gook and the corporal pull out my dog tags and said, hey he's one of us and I said yeah", said Tanaka.
It was announced that the United States Senate recently signed off on the congressional gold medal to be awarded to the four already highly decorated units. It's the highest non-military award given.
President Barack Obama is to sign off on it soon.
"Not only for the sacrifices that the soldiers did, but also the families, the loss of properties, suffering in the internment camps while their sons were fighting for America", said Adjutant General Robert Lee.
"Well this is my country, it's about honor, about duty to defend my country".