Robert Yano and Robert Izumi are Japanese-Americans who fought during World War II. They spoke about their time in the service during events for Veterans Day at Edgar High School and the University of Wisconsin Marathon County.
The events were arranged by Colin Hanson, a fifth-grade teacher at Edgar Middle School. He is a leader in A Walk in Their Shoes, a group of educators who arrange for people who witnessed key historical events to come to the area and speak.
Hanson says A Walk in Their Shoes has made the Veterans Day event an annual project. In the past, they have had members of the Ghost Army, who fooled the enemy with inflatable tanks, and the last surviving member of the Navajo code talkers, Chester Nez, who passed away in 2014.
Hanson said that it was important to hear the stories of Yano and Izumi. The two men volunteered to fight for the US while their families were being unfairly persecuted because of their ethnicity.
In the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, around 120,000 Japanese-Americans were taken from their homes and businesses and relocated to internment camps throughout the West.
The two could have been bitter or outraged by the US government’s actions, but they became a part of the most decorated combat unit in US history, Wausau Daily Herald reported.
The presentations are rooted in the book “Go For Broke: The Nisei Warriors of World War II Who Conquered Germany, Japan, and American Bigotry,” by C. Douglas Sterner. Nisei are first-generation American-born people of Japanese immigrants. Yano and Izumi both served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment which was almost completely comprised of Japanese-American soldiers. Their motto was, “Go For Broke.”
Izumi, now 92 years old, served in the 442nd until September 1944 when he transferred to the 101st Airborne Division. He fought at Bastogne, Landsberg, and Berchtesgaden.
After WWII, Izumi transferred to the Army Air Force.