Tacoma's Nisei WW2 veterans say 'don't forget us'

Tacoma native Joe Seto wants history never to forget the sacrifices made by Japanese Americans from Pierce County during World War II. More than 200 served as U.S. soldiers, translators and interpreters. Seto knows because he was one of them, and he keeps careful records.

Many returned home wounded from some of the hardest fighting of the war, veterans of one of the most highly decorated military units in American history.

All wore the uniform of a country that distrusted them, and they bore an extra burden that no Army duffel bag could hold: memories of the months their families spent behind the barbed wire of internment camps.

Several South Sound Japanese American families proved their loyalty to America by giving their sons to the Allied war effort: the Mizukamis of Fife, the Setos of Tacoma and the Hayashis of Tacoma, to name a few.

Now those former soldiers are among nearly 20,000 Japanese American veterans, living and dead, who will receive Congress’ highest civilian honor.

President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service.

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