These images depict the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The photographs were mostly taken by government photographers; the artwork by Japanese Americans illustrates the emotional experience of these men.
Several special fighting forces from the United States, made up of single ethnic groups, made significant contributions during World War II, including the African American Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo Code Talkers. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was made up solely of Japanese Americans, some of whom were recruited directly from internment camps. (Some Japanese American men who would later become leaders, such as Senator Daniel Inouye, were members of the 442nd.) The images in this group provide a look at the lives and sacrifices of the men of the 442nd, the most highly decorated American unit in WWII.
The photographs in this group were all taken for the government-run War Relocation Authority (WRA) and are meant to portray the proud patriotism of the men and their families. One photo shows three women holding their babies, with photographs of their enlisted husbands. Another is a portrait of an older couple who had five sons in the 442nd. Other photographs reflect the training the soldiers of the 442nd received, their life in the battlefield, and their triumphant homecoming.
Other documents in this group show a more personal side of the men of the 442nd. One soldier's photo album depicts his personal experiences as a member of the combat team. A 50-page booklet, The Story of the 442nd Combat Team, compiled by members of the team, has this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt on the dedication page: "Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not and never was a matter of race and ancestry."
On a more poignant note, oil paintings by Japanese American artist Henry Sugimoto reflect the emotions, pain, and suffering these individuals and their families experienced as a result of the war. In Senninbari (Thousand Stiches), a woman holds a scarf of remembrance as a ghostly Nisei soldier looks down from the sky. And in Send Off Husband at Jerome Camp, an internee family stays behind the camp gates as their soldier father/husband goes off to fight for the United States.
The text of this exhibition is available under a Creative Commons CC-BY license. You are free to share and adapt it however you like, provided you provide attribution as follows:
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team curated by University of California staff, available under a CC BY 4.0 license. © 2005, Regents of the University of California.