Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Only the Brave

I now come to the to the third film about honour and integrity and which again illumines the rotten core of the USA in the past.

Only the Brave is a little known film about the 100th Infantry Battalion of 442 Regiment of the United States Army made up of 1000 second generation Japanese Americans, many of whose families were interned and some imprisoned following the attack by Japan on the Pacific Island base of Pearl Harbour. As with the Battalions of all black Americans they were often used by their all white masters to take on the most dangerous and bloody of assignments. The film concentrates on one of their last actions when heavily depleted through deaths and injuries on the campaign through Italy and into Germany they were called upon to break through superior German forces to rescue a small all white unit of less than 300 men. This they succeeded with continuing huge losses to themselves. The film is a fictionalised account of some of he lives of these men. It overlooks the increased prejudice and persecution which the survivors faced after the war despite the unit battalion receiving more honours than any other.

The facts are that 110000 individuals of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were removed from their homes and work and placed in guarded camps. However back in Hawaii although martial law and curfew was imposed the 150000 of the 400000 population continued to live in their home and to work for the USA a decision which was governed by economics than security.

It is therefore not surprising that when the decision came to create a Regiment from Japanese Americans there were 10000 volunteers from the Islands and only 1500 from the mainland and of these some 3000 from the islands and 800 from the mainland were drafted. Because of the length of the campaign and level of casualties the initial force was replaced three and a half times

It was towards the end of the war in Europe that after only two days of resting the survivors of the campaign to date were selected to attempt the rescue of 275 white men cut off for more than a week surrounded by the enemy. 230 were rescued by the special combat and out 346 men who broke through the lines to open a corridor by which the white men could leave only 25 came back with them unhurt. Because of their service 21 Medal of honour were awarded, 560 Silver stars, 4000 Bronze starts and 9486 Purple Hearts. Only in 2010 was the Congressional medal of Honour awarded to the 442 Regimental Combat team and 100th Infantry Battalion. The reception of the survivors was typical of a country that had done its best tom exterminate the Native American and hen treated the black citizens with slave owning mentality until the 1960 and 70’s. There was resistance when Hawaii attempted to become a State of the union because recognition meant having a state where whiles were in the minority. It was the role of the Japanese Hawaiians in World War II which swayed opinion in favour, eventully.

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