âWe didnât believe it at first when the radio announced the attack on Pearl Harbor, but as the radio blared on, we became convinced that this wasnât some prank by Orson Welles. Most of my fellow enlisted men were of Polish or German descent and came from around Buffalo, New York. I was the only one from New York City and the only Japanese-American.
âThere was no doubt about ultimate victory. Although all of us had been drafted (in peacetime) to serve only one year, we now concluded that we were in for the duration. We did not realize how long that would be.
âIn the years preceding the war, as relations between Japan and the United States deteriorated, my fatherâs friends had often asked me whose side I would fight on in case of war. Without reservation I had said I would fight for the United States â I couldn't read or write Japanese and had never been to Japan. Now, the worst had happened. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, I was transferred to the Medical Corps. A Chaplain Yamada, a Japanese-American from Hawaii, asked if I would join the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was being formed of Japanese-Americans for service in Europe. I did. The rest is history.ââThe restâ was also heroic. Kuwayamaâs 2014 obituary from the Japanese American Veterans Association listed his awards:Â the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Combat Medical Badge, Italian Croce di Valore, and French Legion of Honor. With his comrades in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, he also received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011. READ MORE: View âPearl Harbor Rememberedâ as a PDF