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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Oct. 3, 1944. p. 3
WRA CHIEF SAYS HEROISM OF NISEI IN ITALY SOFTENING OPPOSITION TO JAPS RETURN
LOS ANGELES (UP) -Director Dillon S. Myer of the War Relocation authority Tuesday credited battle heroism of Japanese-Americans serving in the U.S. army with softening the opposition to their return to the Pacific coast.
Myer, speaking at an interfaith meeting sponsored by the Pacific Coast committee on American Principles and Fair Play, praised the group for determination to settle the Japanese problem in this country "through processes of reason and in a Christian spirit."
"In the past several months the temper of public opinion on this issue has been changing rapidly and unmistakably," Myer said. "Some private organizations that formerly advocated total exclusion and mass deportation of Japanese-Americans have softened and modified their attitudes.
"This change has been brought about, I am convinced, primarily by the magnificent combat record of Japanese-American boys in the uniform of the U.S. army. They have fought their way up the peninsula of Italy, usually in the very forefront of the action, taking desperate chances, wiping out machine gun nests, harassing the enemy from all sides, driving him relentlessly back toward the Alps."
Myer said the 100th infantry battalion, made up of Japanese-American boys from Hawaii, and received 1000 Purple Hearts, 44 Silver Stars, 31 Bronze Stars, nine Distinguished Service Crosses and three Legion of Merit medals among the total of 1300 troops that have served in the unit.
The 100th battalion is now part of the 442nd regimental combat team, Myer said, made up of thousands of Nisei from the mainland, including many evacuated from the west coast.
"Today there are well over 10,000 American men of Japanese descent in the U.S. army uniform," Myer said, adding that they are serving in Italy, Burma, China and the South Pacific islands against "the fanatical hordes from the main Japanese islands."
Some heroes among these soldiers, he added, are "more American by far than the people who shipped scrap iron and oil to Japan" before Pearl Harbor.
Copyrighted by the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. Reproduced by permission.