Camp Shelby, Ms. 1943. Panoramic silver gelatin photograph, 9 1/2 x 18 inches. Backed on linen. Several vertical creases, minor fading. Very good. Item #WRCAM55219
A significant group portrait featuring over 100 Japanese-American members of the 2nd Battalion of the famed 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team during their training before World War II. The soldiers stand proudly, many of them smiling, with a flagman at left holding the unit's guidon. Six commissioned officers, none of them Japanese- American, stand in the middle of the front line. This image was taken just four months after the activation of the 442nd on February 1, 1943. The 442nd Infantry Regiment was composed almost entirely of second- generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei). They trained at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, not far from places like Rohwer and Jerome, Arkansas, where Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II. When many of their families were imprisoned in camps within the United States, the 442nd fought with outsized courage and uncommon distinction in Italy, Germany, and southern France, living up to their motto to "Go for broke." Over 800 Japanese-Americans would be killed or declared missing in action during their brief stint in the war, an unusually-high percentage relative to their force numbers. But they would also earn unusually- high combat rewards, including seven Distinguished Unit citations, one of them awarded by President Truman himself, who remarked on July 15, 1946, "You've fought not only the enemy...you fought prejudice and won." Japanese-American service members also earned twenty Medals of Honor, 4,000 Purple Hearts, twenty-nine Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars, and more than 4,000 Bronze Stars for World War II alone. Since the Second World War, the 442nd has become the most highly decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces, with twenty-one Medal of Honor recipients and 9,486 Purple Hearts. Images of individual units of the fighting 442nd are rare, especially those emanating from their first few months in service.