By Stephen D. Lutz Thousands of Japanese American men demonstrated their loyalty to the U.S. by volunteering to serve in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment, to which the 100th would later be joined. Comprising almost entirely Asian Americans, the 442nd would become the most decorated group of its size in the history of the U.S. military. For young American men of Japanese descent, getting into World War II was not easy. Distrust by whites of anyone who looked Asian was rife. And if war with Japan broke out, many government and military leaders wondered: On which side did the loyalties of these Asian Americans lie? Among Japanese Americans, there were three classes: Issei (born in Japan but moved to the U.S. or its territories), Nisei (born to Issei in the U.S. or its territories), and Kibei (a person of Japanese descent, born in the U.S. but educated in Japan). To prepare for a possible war, on October 15, 1940, the Territory of Hawaii (it would not become a state until August 21, 1959) established its 298th and 299th Infantry Regiment Territorial Guard units. Of approximately 3,000 members, about half were Hawaiian-born Nisei. Military induction and basic training were performed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. The Hawaiian Army Department commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Herron, was quoted in 1940 as saying, “The Army is not worried about the Japanese in Hawaii. Among them there may be a small hostile alien group, but we can handle the situation.


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