House of History: the Podcast

The Purple Heart Battalion: Japanese-Americans in the U.S. Army (WW2)

March 17, 2021

As war broke out in the Pacific Theatre, on the United States mainland measures were taken against supposedly potentially hostile Japanese as well. In February 1942 President Roosevelt authorised Executive Order 9066, an executive that in practice was used to relocate Japanese Americans to internment camps forcibly. The Nisei, a term to describe Japanese that were born and raised in the United States, were forcibly relocated into internment camps. The treatment of Japanese-American citizens during the second world war is pretty well known, even outside of the United States. But what’s so curious is that although Japanese Americans were viewed as a potentially hostile threat by mere reason of their ancestry, the 442nd Infantry Regiment fought as part of the United States Army in the European theatre. This regiment consisted entirely of Nisei soldiers, Americans with Japanese ancestry. And what is more, it became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history.

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