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History
Minnesota National Guard
Iraq-bound Soldiers honor Japanese-American WWII veterans

By Marc Ramirez
Seattle Times staff reporter

The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division honors the aging members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Japanese-American unit attached to the 34th during World War II The 442nd became one of the most decorated in US military history even though the families of many of its Soldiers had been sent to internment camps

In an International District meeting room, walkers and crutches rested next to tables topped with sandwiches and cookies

There, in the offices of Seattle's Nisei Veterans Committee, aging Japanese-American members of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team broke bread on Friday with far younger counterparts - national guardsmen bound for Iraq

Though separated by generations, they are united in history

The Minnesota National Guard's 34th "Red Bull" Division paid tribute to the 442nd, the mostly Japanese-American unit that had served under the division's command during some of the toughest fighting in World War II

"It's a real honor," said Tosh Okamoto, 83 "Even after 60 years, they still recognize the association between our two units"

The division, with about 1,000 Minnesota-based Soldiers, just finished two months of training at Fort Lewis before deploying for Iraq, starting next week

Commemorative coins were presented A proclamation from Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty was read, declaring April 10 as Nisei Veterans Committee Day A documentary was shown, detailing the history and impact of the 442nd and its 100th "Nisei" Battalion

"We just felt we had to be here for these guys," said commanding officer Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, among the brass attending the ceremony

It has been more than 60 years since the Soldiers of the 442nd earned distinction as the most decorated unit in US military history, given its size and length of service The feat - including 21 Medals of Honor - is all the more notable considering the circumstances: After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many of their families had been herded into detention camps

The so-called "Go For Broke" unit suffered 600-plus casualties, with more than 9,400 wounded As President Clinton said at a June 2000 event for Asian-American Medal of Honor recipients: "Rarely has a nation been so well-served by people it has so ill-treated"

After the war, many Nisei found they were unwelcome in veterans groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Undaunted, they helped form Nisei Veterans Committee, which made Friday's lunchtime brotherhood all the more special

The meeting had come about by chance: Vietnam veteran Ted Yorita, a former Marine, had been at Fort Lewis for a gathering of color guards when he took a break at the local burger joint A few tables away, something familiar caught his eye

It was a patch he knew well, on the shoulders of several lunching 34th Division Soldiers Yorita, a member of the Nisei Veterans Committee, had to ask: Had they heard of the 442nd?

Which, it turned out, was like asking if these guys had heard of their own uncles

One phone call led to another, and on Friday, the Iraq-bound Soldiers honored men such as Kim Muromoto, who was there in April 1945 when the 442nd helped break the Germans' impenetrable "Gothic Line" high in the Italian mountains "The Allies couldn't penetrate the line," Muromoto said The breakthrough marked the end of the war in Europe

The unattached 442nd, which incorporated the famed but depleted 100th "Nisei" Battalion, had bounced around without a home for a bit before bonding with the 34th Division for good amid the final push of the war "We all had admiration for the 34th's bravery and courage," said Frank Nishimura, 85 "We had to live up to that standard"

The victory at Italy's Mount Folgorito was among several campaigns that distinguished the unit throughout 1944 to '45, including the fighting at Anzio Beach, the liberation of Jewish prisoners at Dachau and the legendary "Rescue of the Lost Battalion," an Army division trapped behind German enemy lines in France

For the older veterans, it was a chance to say thanks and to recall the bonds they still share with the 34th "It feels good that I can actually thank them myself," Nishimura said "It's a different generation But I'm confident they can live up to their predecessors"

Marc Ramirez: 206-464-8102 or mramirez@seattletimescom

Article source: www.SeattleTimes.NWSource.com



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Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.



Guard Heritage Suffers with Loss of Artillery Unit

Posted: 2017-10-04  11:22 AM
ETAB ANOKA, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard lost one of its most historically significant units when the 151st Artillery's E Battery, (Target Acquisition) cased its colors in a ceremony at the Anoka High School Aug. 19, 2017.

The Target Acquisition Battery (ETAB), 151st Field Artillery is one of the oldest and most decorated units in the Minnesota National Guard and the 34th Infantry Division. "Both Minnesota and the Division lose the proud lineage that goes back to Civil War days, through WW1 and WW2, and had a significant amount of battle streamers," said 151st Field Artillery Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Cornwell.

The 151st Field Artillery draws its lineage from the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery of 1864 which fought two major campaigns in Tennessee during the Civil War.



In one month: Minnesota Guardsmen support Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Posted: 2017-09-29  02:25 PM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the span of a few weeks, three major hurricanes hit different parts of the southern United States, causing widespread damage and destruction and requiring the response of agencies around the country. The Minnesota National Guard is one of the many organizations that have responded, sending Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"This is the most gratifying deployment of my career," said Capt. Jeremy Maxey with the 133rd Airlift Wing who was called back from his vacation early to go to the Virgin Islands. "It means a lot to be able to actually directly help people. It's why I serve. Throughout my career I've deployed numerous times, but this is the one where you actually see the people you serve."

The start of the month brought the first request for assistance. On Sept. 1, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 11 personnel from the St. Cloud-based B Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left for Texas following Hurricane Harvey to transport personnel and equipment in support of response efforts.



Finding fellowship in the sacred mission

Posted: 2017-09-26  12:02 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - One of the most difficult, most sacred, honorable duties in the military is one that people don't often think about. It takes compassion, empathy, care, and requires great resilience. It is one that when called upon to train for, they hope to rarely perform because it means another Soldier has been lost. It is the duty of casualty notification officer and casualty assistance officer.

About 45 Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers came to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, on September 21-22, 2017, for a Reset Seminar to find fellowship in one specific thing they have in common: delivering the worst news in the Army.

When a Soldier dies at home or overseas, CNOs and CAOs must notify and help families through the process, including paperwork, benefits, and funeral arrangements.



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