By Rick Leonhart

For what avail the plow, or sail…or land, or life…if freedom fail? Ralph Waldo Emerson

October 2018

Real American Heroes

In every list of superlatives, one has to be at the top of the list. So, what could be

so significant about any particular one of the highly decorated military units

throughout history? If you haven’t heard about this one, you will see.

In World War II, the United States Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team became

the most decorated unit of its size in military history. These 13,000 soldiers

earned 18,000 awards, including 9,486 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars, and 21

Medals of Honor. And they played a key role in saving the “Lost Battalion” of

movie fame. But that is only part of the story.

This unit was unique in that, while they were fighting for the freedom of the

United States, most of their relatives did not have their freedom. When they liberated

the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, their families

were still confined in the United States.

You see, soon after we went to war with Japan and Germany, the 442nd RCT was

formed, composed entirely of Nisei, that is, Japanese-Americans. When their relatives

got locked up for being American residents of “Foreign Enemy Ancestry,”

they decided to prove that they and their families were loyal, patriotic Americans.

For “Liberty and Justice for all,” they bravely fought, and seven hundred of

them died, defending the Stars and Stripes they loved.

Their sacrifice should make us humble, and immensely proud, to call ourselves


God Bless America.