The U.S. Postal Service on June 3 will unveil a postage stamp honoring nisei soldiers from Hawaii and the mainland who served in the U.S. military during World War II.
The commemorative stamp will be an illustration of Hawaii island’s Shiroku “Whitey ” Yamamoto, who was a part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed of soldiers of Japanese heritage.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, ” Lynn Heirakuji, president of the Nisei Veterans Legacy, said in a news release. “There’s a big story behind this little stamp, but it’s more than a history lesson. It holds powerful lessons for this and future generations.”
Yamamoto was a “Go for Broke ” soldier, which is a phrase that captured the nisei solders’ spirit of courage and service. It’s also a rallying cry on the battlefield.
Yamamoto played a pivotal role during World War II by volunteering for the Civilian Conservation Corps that built Saddle Road, which connected Kona to Hilo.
He then joined the 442nd RCT, launching his military career.
While he and other nisei soldiers were deployed to Europe, the 442nd RCT merged with the 100th Infantry Battalion in Italy.
The 442nd RCT also rescued the Lost Battalion, who were Texan soldiers who tried to push the Germans out of France but found themselves behind enemy lines.
“We will always be grateful to Mr. Yamamoto and all of the 33, 000 AJA soldiers who served with dignity, ” Mae Isonaga, member of the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd RCT, said in a news release. “They fought for their country, for a better future for their families—their descendents. It’s our responsibility to ensure their story is told.”
Founders of Stamp Our History, a 2005 initiative, advocated for 15 years to have nisei solders featured on a U.S. postage stamp.
“Our founders each expressed their wish that the stamp bring people and organizations together to remember and honor what the Go For Broke Solders accomplished, and to be reminded of their American legacy that impact us all today, ” California resident Wayne Osako, who has nisei relatives who served in World War II, said in a news release. “We are so grateful for all the support we have received over the years.”
Hawaii will hold a media event tentatively set for June 4 at Club 100. This is a collaboration among the U.S. Postal Service, the Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 44nd Veterans Club, 442nd Legacy Center, 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans, Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, Military Intelligence Service Veterans Education Society of Hawaii and Nisei Veterans Legacy.
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