Nakamine, Shinyei.

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Nakamine, Shinyei, born 21-01-1920 in Waianae Oahu, Hawaii  Nakamine was born to Japanese immigrant parents. Shinyei is a Nisei, which means that he is a second generation Japanese-American. One month before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Nakamine joined the US Army in November 1941. Nakamine volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 100th Infantry Battalion.

This army unit was mostly made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.

Two months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 906.  This meant that approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans were transferred to one of ten internment camps in the United States.

Until 1945, entire families lived in barracks in the isolated camps guarded by American soldiers. They lost their belongings. After the war they received small compensation under strict conditions.From 1944 onwards, internees could leave the camps, but they were not allowed to return to the exclusion zones until the Japanese capitulation. They fanned out across the country and the internment had the unforeseen side effect that the Japanese integrated into American society much better than before the war.From the 1960s onwards, there was criticism of the measures taken at the time. More and more became known about the facts and background, especially through research by the University of Chicago led by the authoritative sociologist Dorothy Swaine Thomas, widow of William Thomas. Her team spoke to those involved and studied ego documents, such as Charles Kikuchi’s diary, which was also given a public edition in 1973. Many Americans started to look at the events differently, and in 1992 a compensation of $20,000 was paid out for each person involved.

During the course of the Second World War it became clear that the American army was short of manpower. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called for volunteers to sign up for a second largely Japanese-American unit: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

In the camps, where Japanese-Americans complained about having their basic civil rights taken away, hundreds of people made it clear that they would oppose military service until all families were free. Others, on the other hand, wanted to show that they were indeed loyal Americans. About a thousand young men from the camps voluntarily chose to join the army. The 442nd Regiment saw action on seven major campaigns, suffering 9,486 casualties, including six hundred dead. The unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation seven times and its members received 18,143 individual awards. This made them the most decorated combat unit in American history in relation to their number of members. After the war, President Harry Truman greeted the 442nd Regiment in Washington, D.C., with the words, “You fought not only the enemy, but prejudice—and you won.” In the postwar years, Japanese Americans would nevertheless face hatred, racism and discrimination.

 

The 100th Infantry Battalion, nickname “Purple Heart Battalion”   of the United States Army who received the United States’ highest decoration for valor, The Medal of Honor, for actions in La Torreto, Italy during World War II. Nakamine received the medal for advancing on enemy forces when his own unit was pinned down. Nakamine was subsequently killed during this engagement and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross which was eventually upgraded to the Medal of Honor upon military review in June 2000. Shinyei Nakamine (far right) and other soldiers warm themselves by the fire at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin  

The 100th Infantry Battalion was activated on 12-06-1942, composed of more than 1,400 American-born Japanese called “Nisei” (NEE-say), or second generation. The War Department had removed them from Hawaii out of fear of renewed Japanese attacks.

Private Shinyei Nakamine distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 02-06-1944, near La Torreto, Italy. During an attack, Private Nakamine’s platoon  B Company, became pinned down by intense machine gun crossfire from a small knoll 200 yards to the front. On his own initiative, Private Nakamine crawled toward one of the hostile weapons. Reaching a point 25 yards from the enemy, he charged the machine gun nest, firing his submachine gun, and killed three enemy soldiers and captured two. Later that afternoon, Private Nakamine discovered an enemy soldier on the right flank of his platoon’s position. Crawling 25 yards from his position, Private Nakamine opened fire and killed the soldier. Then, seeing a machine gun nest to his front approximately 75 yards away, he returned to his platoon and led an automatic rifle team toward the enemy.

Death and burial ground of Nakamine, Shinyei.

  Under covering fire from his team, Private Nakamine crawled to a point 25 yards from the nest and threw hand grenades at the enemy soldiers, wounding one and capturing four. Spotting another machine gun nest 100 yards to his right flank, he led the automatic rifle team toward the hostile position but was killed by a burst of machine gun fire. Private Nakamine’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army. Shinyei Nakamine is buried on the National Cemetery o/t Pacific, Hawai, Honolulu. Section D, Grave 402.

Soldiers present the Nakamine family with Shinyei’s medal.

 

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