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For more than 30 years, a group of soldiers from the “Go For Broke” regiment have met once a month to share breakfast and war stories.
“You only get one thing on your mind and that’s to fight. Somebody shoot at me, I shoot you,” 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran Clarence Tamayori said.
Over the years, the group has gotten smaller. Once more than 40 strong, they are now down to less than a dozen
But Wednesday’s gathering was different.
“It’s an honor for me to be a part of this,” Hawaii Army National Guard Col. Roberts Lesher said.
After waiting decades, 91-year-old Seichi Sakaida and 92-year-old Tamayori received the Bronze Star Medal.
“Distinguished himself by meritorious service while serving with K Company 442nd Infantry Regiment in connection with military operations against a hostile force on 17, July 1944 in Italy,” Col. Lesher said.
Col. Lesher made the formal presentation.
“…And reflects great credit upon himself, the 442nd Infantry Regiment and the Army of the United States,” Col. Lesher said.
The men quietly and humbly accepted their awards.
“Shocking. I was surprised to receive the medal today,” Sakaida said.
Both men still recall the day they enlisted.
“Because I feel it was my duty at that time,” Tamayori said.
“A lot of my friends didn’t get in because they had a quota,” Sakaida said.
It came at a time when Japanese-Americans were classified as enemy aliens.
“Yeah, but I didn’t think about that. We got to prove to be an American,” Tamayori said.
Tamayori says he was fighting for his country, the state of Hawaii, and his family name.
“Even if I die, then I did good that’s okay, that’s alright because I’m fighting for my country,” Tamayori said.
On Wednesday, the U.S. government thanked them for their service.
“We all forget about that already. I did forget everything because it was a long, long time ago,” Tamayori said.
“Thought they forgot us,” Sakaida said.
Mr. Tamayori and Mr. Sakaida, we will never forget.