Whitey Kurasaki said the first time they tried to get into Bruyeres in France, they failed.
“They told us to go through the valley and climb the hill, but because of the Germans, no can go,” said Kurasaki, the head of the Kauai 442nd Regimental Combat Team group, during the Kauai Veterans Council Christmas party at the Kauai Veterans Center. “Finally, we pulled back and the general was disappointed we couldn’t get in.”
This was one of the incidents Kurasaki was involved in during his tenure as a soldier with the 442nd RCT in Europe.
“I joined in 1940,” Kurasaki said. “We were in Europe — Italy, France and Germany — from 1940 until I got out in 1946.”
“Go for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts” chronicles the history of Japanese American soldiers from the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd RCT, and the Military Intelligence Service who served during World War II.
Presented by the Nisei Veterans Legacy Center, the exhibit will be available for free public viewing at the Kauai Veterans Center Jan. 5-30.
Eric Saul, exhibit curator, donated it to the NVLC. Following its showing at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the exhibit was shipped to Honolulu in March.
The exhibit, showcasing the Japanese American soldiers’ actions during World War II and the beneficial socio-economic changes which occurred in America due to their valorous service, has been making its way around the state, said Brynes Yamashita of the Go For Broke Exhibit Committee.
“The reception by the people on the neighbor islands has been overwhelming, and we look forward to bringing it to Kauai and sharing it with the island’s residents,” Yamashita said in an email.
The 442nd RCT remains the most decorated unit in United States military history for its size and length of service. Japanese American soldiers of the 110th Battalion and 442nd fought in eight campaigns across Europe, receiving an unprecedented seven Presidential Unit Citations.
“When we tried to enter the town, a big transportation center occupied by Germans, the regimental commander, after being asked if we needed help, said ‘we no need help,’” Kurasaki said. “They told us to go through the valley and up the hill, but our first scout walked up the road.”
Kurasaki said he walked right into the town, and no Germans were in sight.
“He asked this French lady where the Germans were,” the 94-year-old 442nd veteran said. “She pointed out a house where she said the Germans were playing with the wahine. We came in, went down where the Germans were and captured them, without firing a shot.”
The Go for Broke exhibit covers the individuals who helped Japanese American soldiers during World War II, the soldiers who came home and the closure of the internment camps, the Japanese American veterans and the civil rights movement, The Redress Movement to the passage of House Resolution 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and continuing legacy.
Originally, created in 1980 and 1981 through the efforts of more than 100 Nisei veterans in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, the exhibit was originally shown at the Presidio of San Francisco before touring throughout the United States for nearly 10 years.
Susan Honjiyo, a 100th Battalion Sons and Daughters, said the Kauai Veterans Council Museum Committee needs volunteers with the Go for Broke exhibit. Help is needed for set up, scheduled for Jan. 3, greeters during the exhibit and for the breakdown.
Call 246-1135 to register as a volunteer, or for more information.