The Placer County Board of Supervisors will host a dedication ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 16 for a memorial commemorating the bravery, patriotism and dedication of local Japanese-American residents who served in one of the U.S. Army’s most-decorated units during World War II.
The ceremony honoring county residents who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team will take place at 10 a.m. at the Bill Santucci Justice Center, 10800 Industrial Ave., in Roseville. The memorial is located on Justice Center Drive near the Placer County Superior Court building.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
During the event, Placer County will dedicate the first phase of the memorial. Three surviving members of the 442nd are scheduled to attend.
The Placer County Japanese American Citizens League plans to add a bronze statue during a second phase of the project within the next year.
“Placer County and the Placer County Japanese American Citizens League want to make sure the public never forgets the patriotism and dedication of the more than 100 soldiers from our county who served in the 442nd,” said Chairman F.C. “Rocky” Rockholm of the Board of Supervisors.
“The unit’s battlefield successes and dedication to our country are one of the most remarkable, heart-warming stories of World War II. The memorial will help ensure that the story of the 442nd and its soldiers will endure.”
For the first phase of the memorial, Placer County created a 36-foot wide concrete compass and framed an open space to the south with two large granite boulders that represent the struggles soldiers endured coming out of the Vosges Mountains in France. One boulder has an inlaid bronze plaque with a dedication message from the Board of Supervisors and the other boulder has a bronze plaque that describes the history of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In phase two, Placer County also plans to include inscribed names of every Placer County resident who served in the unit on either granite or bronze.
To honor the 442nd, Placer County also has named a roadway at the Santucci Center “Go for Broke Road” to commemorate the unit’s motto.
In the second phase of the project, the Japanese American Citizens League will install a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture created by internationally acclaimed artist France Borka that will depict a scene from one of the 442nd’s most famous battles. The JACL will be accepting donations to pay for the sculpture.
In the battle, the 442nd rescued the “lost battalion” of the Army’s 141st Infantry, which had been surrounded by German troops in the Vosges Mountains of France.
During the war, the 442nd fought with distinction in Italy, France and Germany. It was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the entire history of the U.S. military.
The 4,000-man force suffered so many casualties that approximately 14,000 soldiers served in its ranks during the war. Its members earned more than 9,000 Purple Hearts, 21 Medals of Honor, eight Presidential Unit Citations and many other honors.
Many of the Japanese-American soldiers who fought in the 442nd endured the hardships of internment and relocation camps with their families. Many would later say that they served in the Army to prove their loyalty to America.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the loyalty of Japanese-American residents was questioned. Young “Nisei,” second-generation, American-born men, were at first denied the opportunity to serve their country.
When allowed to enlist on January 19, 1942, Nisei were placed in segregated units. In Europe, the 442nd and 100th Battalion were comprised of Japanese-American soldiers. In the Pacific Theater, Japanese-American soldiers frequently were assigned to the U.S. Military Intelligence Service.