JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
IMMEDIATE RELEASE:October 31, 2004
CONTACTS:Terry Shima (301-987-6746; email@example.com)
Thomas Mukai (703-751-1550;firstname.lastname@example.org)
George Watanabe (George.Watanabe@darby.setaf.army.mil)
FOR PHOTO: Open JAVA website (www.javadc.org), left column, scroll down and press "downloads.
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ITALIAN TOWN HONORS 100TH INFANTRY BATTALION.
GENERAL KAMIYA ATTENDS CEREMONY
Sant Angelo d’Alife, a grateful Italian town of 3,000, located 300 miles south of Leghorn, dedicated a monument in the town square on October 24, 2004 to honor those who sacrificed their lives, including the 34th (Red Bull) Division’s 131st Regiment and the 100th Infantry Battalion, in liberating them 60 years ago. The dignified program included the reading of the names of fifty-nine 131st Regt and twenty-one 100th Battalion soldiers, who were killed in fiercely fought battles during October 20-25, 1944.
Brigadier General Jason Kamiya, Commanding General, Southern European Task Force (Airborne) (SETAF) with headquarters in Vicenza, 30 miles west of Venice, and George Joji Watanabe, over 20 years resident of Italy and unofficial "ambassador" of the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and wives, participated in this event. A joint service, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) band, based in Naples, played the national anthems of both countries and other marching music. Honolulu-born General Kamiya is the son of Larry Kamiya (Company C, 100th Battalion), who participated in the Sant Angelo d’Alife liberation and was wounded shortly before the battle of Monte Cassino.
L-R: Yeiichi (Kelly) Kuwayama (Co E, Medic), Joe Ichiuji (522nd Field Artillery), Terry Shima (Sv Co, Public Relations), Norman Ikari (Co. E).
Mayor Salvatore Bucci said that "the erection of monuments is a demonstration of respect for those who fought for freedom". In thanking the Allied Forces for the liberation of Sant Angelo d’Alife, Bucci said "this small gesture signifies the strong friendship that ties us to the United States and we would like to give special thanks for the help that was given to our community in that time of great need. This gesture also serves to remind the future generations that freedom is a precious gift and that friendships are sacred and must never be forgotten."
Following the program, General Kamiya said "it was a beautiful ceremony and one that my spouse Carmen and I will remember for many years to come. The battle to liberate San Angelo d'Alife must have been horrendous as the town is dominated by hill masses on three sides. While the fallen are no longer with us, you could feel in spirit their courage and sacrifice as the names of those killed in action -- civilian, Italian military, and US military -- were read. Our hearts go out to their surviving families, loved ones and wartime comrades. The experience would have made any veteran or soldier, regardless of gender, race, or national origin, feel enormously proud, and I will take this memory, this sense of honor, with me as my soldiers and I deploy to Afghanistan in the Spring of 2005."
The 100th Battalion soldiers who were killed in the liberation of Sant Angelo d'Alife area are.
1. Arakawa, Harold J PFC Co A: 2. Ajitomi, Matsuei Pvt Co C:
3. Fukuyama, Kaoru Pvt Co D 4. Hamanaka, Fred Y. Pvt Co D.
5. Hasegawa, Kiyoshi PFC Co C: 6. Hirayama, Yutaka Pvt Co C:
7. Kaya, Satoshi Pvt Co C 8. Kiyabu, Ronald S Sgt Co A
9. Morihara, Arthur A. PFC Co A: 10. Murakami, Sakae Pvt Co C:
11. Murashige, Richard K S/Sgt Co A: 12. Naganuma, Martin M Pvt Co C:
13. Nagata, Hideo Pfc Co C: 14. Naito, Kaoru PFC Co A 15. Ozawa, George Y Sgt Co A 16. Riyu, Masatsugu Pvt Co C: 17. Sakamoto, Louis K S/Sgt Co C: 18.. Shikiya, Ted T Pvt Co A: 19. Takei, Yoshinobu Pvt Co A 20. Toyama, Richard K Cpl Co A 21. Yamanaga, Thomas I PFC Co A:
Bert Mizusawa, President of JAVA, reflected on this occasion, stating "this tribute to the 100th by the residents of Sant Angelo d’Alife expresses the warm feelings of a grateful community and will serve to further cement the friendship between the peoples of Italy and the United States. This monument is a testament to the supreme price that must be paid to preserve freedom. "Mille grazie per l’amacizia" - Many thanks for your friendship.
The 100th Battalion veterans were deeply moved upon hearing from Watanabe of the program at Sant Angelo d’Alife. Denis Teraoka, President of the 100th Infantry Veterans said: "The 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans are honored and pleased that Sant Angelo d’Alife still remembers and commemorates the sacrifices and legacy of their comrades who were killed in action while fighting for the liberation of their town."
Watanabe said "I want to thank the good people of Sant Angelo d'Alife for this monument honoring the brave 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, and the 100th Infantry Battalion who died liberating this city. I will continue to work with the Italian people to research and to honor those who sacrificed so much in WWII for all of us."
After wading the waist deep Volturno River, located between Naples and Rome, during October 18-19, 1943, the mission of the 100th Infantry Battalion under the 34th Division command was to liberate Sant Angelo d’Alife and the surrounding towns. The men were warned they would meet stiff resistance from the 29th Panzer Grenadier Division, made up of crack German troops, that they were entrenched on the high ground and guarded by heavily fortified mine fields, and that German artillery had excellent observation overlooking the valley. The 100th was designated as the lead unit.
When the attack commenced at night , Company A sent its scouts forward. As they neared a farmhouse, the Germans opened fire with their machine gun fire interlocking with that from other machine guns killing 10 men and wounding 20. Two days later the 100th and other elements of the 133rd would be subjected to artillery that, for the first time, carried a marrow-freezing sound that the GIs called "screaming-meemies". After five days of combat, including house to house searches to flush out the enemy, San Angelo d’Alife and the neighboring towns were secured.
After the Sant Angelo d’Alife battle, the 100th, as part of the 34th Division, would continue to advance north liberating town after town, including Cassino. Replacements were provided from the 1st Battalion of the 442nd. On June 11, 1944 the 442nd,, minus the 1st Battalion, arrived in Civitavecchia, a small seaport about 40 miles north of Rome. There, the 100th joined the 442nd, in effect, as the 1st Battalion but retained its designation, 100th Battalion, and would serve as an integral part of the 442nd .
The story of how the 100th Battalion got to Sant Angelo d’Alife is a twist of history itself. The men that made up the 100th Battalion were Japanese Americans who were drafted before the war and were assigned to the 298th and 299th Hawaii National Guard units. Following the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese American soldiers were placed in virtual isolation away from weapons and under armed guards, because the authorities questioned their loyalty. Because of this distrust, 1,432 Japanese American draftees were shipped without publicity on June 5, 1942 to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. There, they were scrutinized for the next 12 months for their loyalty while they trained for combat.
Their exemplary training record and confirmation of their loyalty contributed to the activation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed of over 4,000 Japanese American volunteers from Hawaii and the ten internment camps located in desolate places on the mainland, where 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated.
After one year of training, on June 6, 1943, the 100th was sent to Louisiana and Mississippi for maneuvers where they briefly joined the newly arrived 442nd Regimental Combat Team at Camp Shelby. On August 21, 1943 the 100th Battalion left New York by itself for Oran, North Africa where it was attached to the 34th Division. The 34th Division, including the 100th Battalion, would leave North Africa and land in Salerno in September 1943 with 1,300 men. After one month of fighting, the 100th would find itself in combat at Sant Angelo d’Alife.
General Kamiya was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was commissioned in the Infantry in 1976 and has since served in a variety of stateside and overseas assignments. He took command of SETAF this past April and will assume command of a multi-service, multi-national, Combined Joint Task Force in Afghanistan this Spring. His wife, Carmen, is a native of Waimea, Kauai. The Kamiyas have two daughters.
Watanabe was born in Hilo, Hawaii. He retired as a Sergeant First Class after 20 years in the Army. He met his wife at a ski resort in Austria in 1975 and settled in Livorno (Leghorn), Italy, where he works at a US Army base, Camp Darby. He is the local historian of 100th/442nd exploits in Italy and has served as a guide to American visitors.
Watanabe said there are two other places in Italy where the towns have built monuments for the Japanese Americans. At Monte Cassino at San Angelo there is a monument and at the new Benedictine Monastery there is a stained glass window both to honor the 100th Battalion for its role in ousting the Germans from Monte Cassino. At the town of Pietrasanta, located on the Italian west coast near the marble producing town of Carrara about 15 miles north of Leghorn, the people built a monument to Sadao Munemori as a testament to the bravery of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. When the enemy grenade landed in his crater, Munemori, realizing that it was too late to throw the grenade out, threw himself on the grenade, saving his two subordinates. Munemori was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery over and beyond the call of duty.