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442nd WWII vets to receive French Legion of Honour Award (Jan. 21)


More than 70 years after the daring rescue of a Texas battalion trapped behind enemy lines in France, four members of the 442nd infantry’s 100th battalion will be recognized for their bravery by receiving the French Legion of Honour Award.

Kazumi Taguchi and the late Mitsuo “Benty” Tachibana of Hilo, Iwao Yonemitsu and Tokuichi Nakano of Naalehu, and the late Hidetaka Sato of Kona will be bestowed the award in a ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21 at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.

Awarding the medals will be the Consul General of France in Hawaii, Pauline Carmona.

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honour award represents France’s highest decoration of valor.

Dubbed as “little men of iron” by war correspondents during World War II, the 442nd gained renown in Italy for their efforts battling the Nazis, then later became legend after their brazen rescue of the 141st “Lost Battalion” of Texas in the mountains of France.

The six-day battle to free the soldiers of the 141st would be remembered as one of World War II’s most famous acts of bravery, resulting in the rescue of more than 200 men from behind enemy positions.

Sustaining heavy losses of their own during the rescue, the 442nd infantry would go on to become one of the most decorated fighting units in U.S. history.

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