Military News

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Japanese-American Vets Receive Bronze Star Medals

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By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2011 – In a ceremony here yesterday more than 66 years after hostilities ended in World War II, 40 Americans received the Bronze Stars they deserved for combat service in that conflict.

The Japanese-American soldiers fought as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service.

Army officials decided that all soldiers who wore the Combat Infantry Badge from World War II were owed a Bronze Star; some, however, never received theirs.

Getting such an award, in many cases, depended on "how good your clerk was, … and some of the clerks were not that great," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Peterson. It's really a matter of poor paperwork that the soldiers had to wait so long to get their Bronze Stars, he added.

The general organized a three-day recognition of Japanese-American soldiers in Washington, D.C. The highlight has some 800 of those veterans being honored with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol today. But for the soldiers who gathered yesterday at a posh hotel, the day was about finally getting the Bronze Star they had earned.

At the event, 31 of those soldiers were present to have the medal pinned on their chest by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. Another nine Bronze Stars were provided to the family members of soldiers who could not attend or who have died.

"It's amazing to get a star like this," said Don K. Masuda, one of the recipients of the award. The former soldier attended the event with his wife, his daughter, and two of his grandsons. He said he's led "a pretty good life" since leaving the Army, which has included being a co-owner of a shipping business in his native Hawaii, and also working six years for the postal service.

He served as an infantryman in World War II, in both Italy and France, as part of the 442nd RCT. He earned two Purple Hearts during his service. He said he's been waiting "a pretty long time" to have a Bronze Star.

Fellow 442nd RCT soldier George Joe Sakato was also at the award ceremony -- both as a recipient of the Bronze Star and as a speaker. Sakato is one of 21 Japanese-American Medal of Honor recipients to come out of the 442nd RCT and 100th Infantry Battalion.

On behalf of the 33,000 Japanese-Americans soldiers who served in World War II, Sakato thanked Congress for the Congressional Gold Medal they are receiving today. He also thanked his country for the opportunity to earn that honor.

"We also thank the government, which allowed us to serve in the U.S. Army to defend our country and to prove our loyalty to America," Sakato said.

Odierno reiterated for those at the event the greatness of the Japanese-American soldiers’ service and the service of all who served in World War II, calling them "the greatest generation."

But the general also touched on the tragedy those soldiers faced that other soldiers did not. Many of their families back home were locked away in camps and branded as enemies of America, even while their sons served to defend the country's ideals.

"From the shock of Pearl Harbor, and out of fear and prejudice, 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps," Odierno said. "But what's incredible to me is that many of them did not allow that grave injustice of the internment to stand in their way. They remained steadfast in their commitment to their country, and volunteered to serve a nation in combat -- a selfless act of devotion."

Those Japanese-American soldiers, he said, served as infantrymen, linguists, military intelligence specialists and artillerymen.

"Over 33,000 Japanese-Americans served in the war," Odierno said. "And of those, over 13,000 served in the 442nd, and earned over 9,000 Purple Hearts."

The 442nd became the most highly decorated unit in the Army's history, Odierno said. The 442nd and the 100th Infantry Battalion together earned seven Presidential Unit Citations, two Meritorious Service Plaques, 36 Army Commendation Medals, and 87 Division Commendations. Individually, soldiers earned 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, more than 354 Silver Stars, and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts.

"Together, they define the ethos that we all live by today: ‘Never leave a fallen comrade,’” Odierno said.

The experience of World War II provided a lesson about tolerance, the general said.

"The lesson of the Japanese-American experience is that fear and prejudice make our country weaker, not stronger," Odierno said. "Japanese-Americans, like others, have more than earned their place in our country, in our Army, and in our society -- a melting pot to include African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and today, Arab-Americans."

About 240 veterans attended the Bronze Star event. Another 100 spouses of deceased veterans also attended, as did about 500 family members representing soldiers.

Peterson, who has Japanese ancestry, said the event was both to honor those soldiers who served, and to educate America.

"It's educational for our nation to know that a group of soldiers and a group of Americans, who because of the mass hysteria when the imperial military of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor -- were classified enemy aliens," Peterson said.

About 120,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up, Peterson said, and put into any of 10 internment camps across nine states.

"Out of those camps came a demand, by 65 percent of them -- 65 percent of 120,000 internees -- to serve their country in a time of war," he said.

Those soldiers who served in units like the 442nd RCT, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service, Peterson said, averaged number three individual awards for heroism.

"They are the most decorated unit in U.S. military history of its size and duration of the conflict," he said.

Photocopying of Military ID Cards and CAC Cards Prohibited

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Monique K. Hilley, Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Installations Command issued an announcement reminding all personnel that the photocopying of military identification cards and common access cards (CAC) is strictly prohibited as of Nov. 1.

There have been recent incidents reported of commercial establishments photocopying U.S. government identification to verify military affiliation or provide government rates for service. These incidents are a violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 701 and are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

Although commercial establishments may request to see military/government identification, they may not photocopy or duplicate it in any way. Many military personnel and commercial establishments are unaware of the prohibition and the reasons it exists, which results in this being a fairly common practice.

Because of the access the cards grant, criminal elements and terrorist organizations place obtaining U.S. government identifications at a premium when planning acts against the U.S. military. If a copied military or government identification fell into the wrong hands, it could spell disaster for the Armed Forces and the nation.

Unfortunately, there are no safeguards in place to prevent a counterfeit military/government identification card from being produced based on a photocopy provided to a commercial establishment. For this reason, personnel are requested to remain vigilant in ensuring they do not allow anyone to photocopy their identification cards.

CNIC recommends that all personnel, both military and civilian, provide a state drivers license or other form of photo identification to be photocopied when there is a request for such information by a commercial establishment.

Navy Medicine Produces Video Highlighting the Health Risks of Spice

From U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy Medicine announced the launch of a new informational video and posters detailing the health dangers associated with the use of Spice and other designer drugs Nov. 1.

The videos and posters will be distributed for display throughout the Fleet and available for download at: http://www.med.navy.mil/Pages/Spice.aspx.

The information and educational communication products focus on the real and present risks, particularly the negative health effects, associated with the usage of the unregulated synthetic marijuana commonly referred to as Spice.

The campaign's slogan,"Spice: It's Not Legal. It's Not Healthy. It's Not Worth It!" has had a resonating effect with YouTube viewers and on the Navy Medicine Website as the Navy surgeon general looks to break through to Sailors and Marines and make a positive impact.

"It is paramount all Navy and Marine Corps personnel are aware of the adverse health effects of this drug," said Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. "Serious side effects have been reported after its use including tremors, panic attacks, delirium, impaired coordination, seizures, paranoid hallucinations, and psychotic symptoms that can last for days, even months in some cases."

Although in development for months, these new products launch on the heels of an announcement from 3rd Fleet leadership last week that 64 Sailors in their area of operation were identified as users of Spice in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and will be held fully accountable as a result.

The synthetic chemicals in Spice-type products have a more potent effect on the brain than traditional marijuana, and the unregulated compounds are often mixed with unknown effects. According to Robinson, these products are not approved for human consumption, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process. Similar to other drugs on the street, experts warn that no one never knows what mixture of chemicals could be present in the drugs, and users are experimenting with the combination of multiple products which can dramatically change or increase its effects on a case by case basis.

Robinson warns that rapid tolerance in some users can lead to increased dosage and addiction. Additionally, the use of synthetic marijuana has led to a surge in emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers, according to the DEA. This past spring, Navy Medical professionals treated multiple patients at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Calif., for Spice usage, some resulting in months of inpatient treatment for persistent psychotic symptoms.

"It is not good enough to simply police our own actions with regards to Spice and other designer drugs," said Robinson. "These drugs are dangerous and we learn more about their damaging effects each day. It is essential that every Sailor and Marine be looking out for their colleagues to prevent injury to their health and their careers."

Spice and other designer drugs fall under the Navy and Marine Corps' zero tolerance policy, and Robinson further emphasizes that commanding officers do not need a positive urinalysis to begin administrative separation. Personnel found to be using, possessing, distributing or who observe an abuse and do not report the incident can be charged with violating the Navy's policies as well.

As the Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Robinson leads 63,000 Navy Medicine personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.