The Eternal RegimentrnThe Continuing Saga of the 442ndrnby Ralph Walker-WillisrnWorld War II has been over for 50 years now. Most veteransrnof that war, myself included, have long put thernwar behind them, their sacrifices and achievements dimmed byrnfaltering memories and the passage of time. Few people remenrber,rnincluding some veterans, the names or numbers ofrnthe old outfits, their combat records and accomplishments, andrnthe pride that soldiers and the country had in them.rnNot so for the so-called “all Japanese-American” 442nd InfantrvrnRegiment, the “most decorated” American unit ofrnWbrid War II. This regiment has been hailed—along with itsrnaccomplishments, medals, decorations, and awards—for a halfcenturvrnnow, doubtless making it the most recognizable regimentrnof the entire war. If asked to name a World War II unit,rnmost schoolchildren in this country would probably name thern442nd, so ingrained in their minds is this hallowed group. Itrnhas been touted as the fiercest American fighting unit ever assembled.rnJames Miehener, in his novel Hawaii, has none otherrnthan I litler himself shaking in his boots at the news that thern442nd has been lined up against his Panzer divisions. “Destroyrnthe Japanese,” he has Hitler order, as if all other Allied troopsrnin Europe were inconsequential. Even the congressional billrnthat awarded $20,000 tax-free to every Japanese-Americanrnwho was interned or relocated during the war was designatedrn”II.R. 442″; the reparations totaled some SI.2 billion. Thernpoliticians who supported this bill never failed to mention thern”most decorated” status of the 442nd to justify their support ofrnreparations.rnThe amount of propaganda about this unit circulated by thernJapanese-American community and its supporters is truly as-rnRalph Walker-Willis writes from llemet, California.rntounding. Little known is the fact that the “442nd” absorbedrnthe battle-scarred remains of the 100th Battalion from Hawaii,rnactivated in 1942 and deployed to Europe in 1943. The 442ndrndid not even dock in Naples until May 1944, all of which is importantrnto remember when digesting the award and casualty totalsrnthe Japanese-American community today claims for thern”442nd.” Moreover, the 442nd was not an “all Japanese-American”rncombat force. Over 400 Caucasian Americans servedrnalongside their Nisei comrades. Of its ten officers killed in action,rneight were Caucasian, a fact that the Japanese communityrnis still reluctant to acknowledge.rnNor have Japanese-American leaders been forthright in theirrnrepresentation of the internment issue, which, as stated above,rnis often viewed in light of the hallowed 442nd. Seldom discussedrnare the more than 15,000 Cerman- and Italian-Americansrnwho also were relocated and interned during the war.rnThe politically correct argument is that the Euro-Americansrnwere relocated and interned because they were a potentialrnthreat; the Japanese-Americans were relocated and internedrnbecause of “racism.” In fact, when the government wanted tornclose the relocation centers in December 1944—long beforernthe war’s end—Japanese-American leaders both in and out ofrnthe relocation centers lobbied Washington not to close them.rnAmong their many reasons: the evacuees’ lands had beenrnleased for the duration of the war; some of the Japanese nationalsrnwere still not convinced that Japan would lose the war;rnand as Lillian Baker reported in her 1991 book The japanningrnof America: Redress & Reparations Demands by Japanese-Americansrn(“japanning” referring to the process of blackening fabricrnor metal; in this case, the varnishing of truth and the blackeningrnof America’s honor), some of the Japanese “frankly neverrnFEBRUARY 199.S/23rnrnrn