Purple Heart Battalion

Purple Heart Battalion

Written on 07/19/2022

The 100th Infantry Battalion initially made up almost entirely of Japanese Americans from Hawaii already in the army prior to World War II, represented the first group of Japanese Americans to see combat during World War II.

Their highly publicized exploits in basic training and combat in Italy helped change the minds of military and political leaders who had banned the enlistment and drafting of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor, paving the way for large-scale participation in the war effort by Japanese American soldiers.  The 100th's distinguished service earned it the nickname "Purple Heart Battalion".

One of its members was future Congressman Daniel Inouye

“…The record of that original 100th Infantry Battalion and what it meant in the acceptance of Japanese Americans as loyal citizens of the United States must be remembered. If it had failed in its first months of fighting in Italy, there might never have been a chance for other Americans of Japanese ancestry to show their loyalty to the United States as convincingly as the 100th did on the battlefields of Europe. The 100th had proved that loyalty to the United States is not a matter of race or ancestry…”

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