This unit of the Japanese-American army is the reason why we celebrate the national day “Go For Broke”
Happy National Day “Go For Broke Day!” “
This phrase was said to have been coined by Hawaiian craps players Pidgin to mean “bet everything at one go”. But it was popularized as the motto of the Army’s famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.
In fact, National Go For Broke Day is celebrated on April 5 of each year, presumably because it was April 5, 1945 that Pfc. Sadao Munemori – the first recipient of the 442nd RCT Medal of Honor – was killed in action near Seravezza, Italy, according to a Defense Ministry history of this highly decorated unit.
The 442nd RCT was made up entirely of Japanese-American soldiers and was formed at a time when this ethnic group was barred from military service after the attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base.
The military eventually authorized Japanese-Americans (known as “Nisei”) to serve in the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, the Military Intelligence Service, and the 442nd RCT, which has was officially activated on February 1, 1943.
After completing their training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, soldiers from the 442nd RCT deployed to Italy in June 1944 to fight alongside the 100th IB. By mid-August, the 100th was absorbed into the 442th and the motto “go for it” became an ingrained part of the unit’s identity.
In September 1944, the 442nd was reassigned to the south of France where it helped free some towns from German control. They were reassigned again in March 1945 and helped – along with the 92nd Infantry Division, an all-black unit – to drive German forces out of northern Italy.
Their achievements in combat inspired the United States to reinstate the project in the Japanese-American internment camps in their country to enable them to fight as well.
The 442nd RCT was deactivated about a year after the end of the war. It only lasted two years, but soldiers of the 442nd RCT and 100th IB earned seven presidential unit citations, two meritorious service plaques, 36 Army Commendation medals, and 87 division honors between them.
Individual soldiers from both units won 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, 15 Soldier’s Medals and 9,500 Purple Hearts, among many other honors.
On a darker note, 650 men from these two units were killed in World War II, 3,700 were wounded in action and 67 were reported missing in action.
In 2011, 450 Japanese-American soldiers from the 442nd RCT and 100th IB received the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States’ highest civilian honor for service.
This unit also inspired a 1951 Hollywood movie aptly titled “Go for Broke”.
So today remember the 442nd RCT and the 100th IB for their revolutionary role in reinstating the military and the motto with which they served their country.