The Battle for Monte Cassino

On January 24, 1944, the 100th was put in the offensive to take Cassino, Italy. Facing them on the Gustav Line was the 1st German Parachute Division. Below the German position, the German army had demolished every building and cleared away the trees so that any movement could be spotted. In addition, the Rapido River had flooded, and for 200 yards, it was nothing but mud and mines.

Companies A and C of the 100th moved to the river wall. During the night, Maj. George Dewey, Maj. John Johnson, and Capt. Mitsuyoshi Fukuda made a further reconnaissance of the area. During the recon, they were caught in artillery and machine-gun fire and were forced into a minefield where a mine blew up beneath them. Maj. Johnson died, and Maj. Dewey was wounded. B Company tried to follow A and C to the river wall but were caught in artillery and machine-gun fire. Out of 187 men, 14 made it to the wall. Depleted of their top command, the battalion was ordered to San Michele for reorganization.

After the battalion was refitted, the 100th returned to fighting. They secured Hill 165 with light resistance. However, the right and left flanks were unable to keep pace. The 100th dug in and waited for four days but resistance was fierce and made their position perilous. The 100th was ordered to fall back behind the hills adjacent to Cassino to join the regimental reserves. On September 22, 1943, the 100th Battalion had 1,300 men. After five months of fighting, it could only muster 521. Because of the sacrifices of the "Original" 100th Battalion, the unit became known as "The Purple Heart Battalion" and "the little iron men."

On February 18, 1944, the 34th Division launched its final attack on Cassino. The 100th Battalion was over-powered – one platoon moved into line with 40 men, and came back with 5. The 100th regained the ground halfway up to the stone Abbey, but was ordered back when their flank support collapsed. They were sent to Alife for replacements and new equipment.

The 34th Division, with the 100th, almost took Cassino in one day, but before they could, they ran out of men and material. Army records later noted that five fresh divisions finally were required to take Cassino along with aerial bombardments. The 34th almost succeeded alone.

Units of the 442nd fought in France and were involved in the invasion of Germany. Other units were returned to Italy during the balance of the conflict and performed important "mop-up" and other duties. Members of the 522nd Field Artillery were among the advance Allied troops that penetrated southern Germany and were involved in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp outside Munich.

By July 1945, there were 20,289 Nisei men enlisted in the Army. In all, over 33,000 Nisei served in World War II. This record includes (in addition to the 100th and 442nd), the Military Intelligence Service, the Women Army Corps (WAC), the Nurses Corp, instructors and staff at the various military and Military Intelligence Services Language Schools (MISLS), Occupation Forces in both Japan and Europe, Parachute Units and Army Air Corps, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, or the "Forgotten Battalion."