National Geographic : 1986 Apr
Douglas MacArthur, they shortened the war against Japan by two years. Their single most valuable exploit, says Shig Kihara, one of the founders of the Army's Japanese-language school at the Presidio in San Francisco, was cracking Op eration Z, Japan's strategic plan for the de fense of the Philippines and the Marianas. The result of that effort was the U. S. naval victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the final destruction of the Japanese fleet. In Europe, the mainland Nisei's 442nd Regimental Combat Team, combined over seas with the Hawaiian 100th Battalion, took for its motto "Go For Broke." Fighting in Italy and southern France, the 100/442nd emerged for its size and length of service as the most decorated unit in American his tory-earning eight Presidential Unit Cita tions and taking 300 percent casualties. Its most celebrated mission was the Octo ber 1944 rescue of the "Lost Battalion"-a unit of the Texas 36th Infantry Division, which had been cut off and was being chewed to pieces in the Vosges Mountains of France. In furious fighting over six days, the 100/442nd suffered more than 800 casualties to rescue 211 members of the Lost Battalion. Fifth Army Commanding Gen. Mark Clark told them: "The whole United States is proud of you." Not quite. Having survived three major campaigns, T/Sgt. Shig Doi hitchhiked back to Auburn, California. With his duffel bag on his shoulder and a Bronze Star on his chest, the diminutive hero topped the crest of a hill and looked down onto his home town. Doi still shuts his eyes at the bitter rec ollection: "Every store on Main Street had a'No Japs Wanted' sign out front."