Go For Broke

National Education Center

Historical Timeline: 1943

Two Nisei soldiers in the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) repair an engine while training at Camp Shelby. Courtesy of the United States Army Signal Corps.

January 1943 Military Intelligence Service Nisei accompany both Australian and American troops at Buna and then at every battle that occurs along New Guinea’s coastMilitary Intelligence Service Language School graduates are at the forward area as well as at the rear.

January 6, 1943
100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) leaves Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for additional training.

January 6, 1943
100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) leaves Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for additional training.

January 22, 1943
War Department letter directs that a Japanese American combat team should be activated on February 1 and should be composed of the 442nd Infantry Regimentthe 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, and the 232nd Combat Engineer Company.

January 28, 1943
War Department calls for volunteers, drawing nearly 10,000 Nisei from Hawai’i, which far surpasses the quota of 1,500. Another 1,200 volunteer from the mainland, although the quota is 3,000. Most are volunteers from incarceration centers.1 Some 2,680 are accepted for induction.

January 31, 1943
At the request of the men of the Triple V, the unit is deactivated so that its members can enlist in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

Tule Lake. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

February 1943
The War Department and the War Relocation Authority issue an “Application for Leave Clearance” to every resident over seventeen held in the incarceration centers. Known as the “loyalty questionnaire,” the document “tests” whether individuals of Japanese descent are “loyal” or “disloyal” to the United States.2

Thousands who answered “no-no” to Questions #27 and #28 are later sent to Tule Lake.3

Members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team gambling upon the bed of a GI truck. Camp Shelby, Mississippi. June 1943. Courtesy of the United States War Department.
February 1, 1943 The 442nd is activated by President Roosevelt: “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.” They adopt as their slogan, “Go for broke,” a Hawaiian slang phrase used in craps games to “shoot the works,” or to hold nothing back. Also activated are the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, comprised of nine Caucasian officers and 96 enlisted men, all of Japanese descent;4 and the 232nd Combat Engineer Company, uniquely comprised of all Japanese American officers and enlisted men.5
The camp at Sand Island. Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.

March 1, 1943
Sand Island detainment center on Oahu, Hawai’i, closes. Remaining detainees are transferred to a new center at Honouliuli, a gulch in central Oahu.

March 28, 1943
The Honolulu Chamber of Commerce sponsors a farewell ceremony at the Iolani Palace for 1,686 Nisei volunteers for the 442nd RCT.

Members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. 1943. Courtesy of the United States Army Signal Corps.

April 13, 1943
The 442nd RCT arrives at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt protests the return of Japanese American soldiers and their families to their homes in his testimony before the House Naval Affairs Committee: “A Jap’s a Jap-it makes no difference if he is a citizen or not.” His testimony, released to the media, causes uproar in the Japanese American community.6

April 16, 1943 Nisei MIS linguist Harold Fudenna, with the 138th Signal Intercept Company, translates an intercepted radio message that reveals the air route that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto will take in his inspection of Japanese facilities on Bougainville. Two days later, Yamamoto’s bomber is shot down, and he perishes with it.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Courtesy of the website of the National Diet Library, Japan.

April 1943
Western Defense Command allows Nisei soldiers to travel throughout the exclusion zones. MISLS sends five Nisei to interrogation camp Byron Hot Springs, California, to process prisoners of war (POW).7

The Aleutian Islands from the air. Courtesy of David Leo Veksler.
May 1943 About sixteen MIS Nisei serve as translators and interrogators on Attu Island in the Aleutians. The War Department sends an additional twenty Nisei to support the assault on Kiska Island.8
Members of the 442nd RCT in training at Camp Shelby. Courtesy of Charles E. Mace, War Relocation Authority.

May 10, 1943
442nd RCT begins basic training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

May 14, 1943
Dillon S. Myer, Director of the War Relocation Authority, makes a statement that incarceration centers “are undesirable institutions and should be removed from the American scene as soon as possible.” He continues:

“Life in a relocation center is an unnatural and un-American sort of life. Keep in mind that the evacuees were charged with nothing except having Japanese ancestors; yet the very fact of their confinement in relocation centers fosters suspicion of their loyalties and adds to their discouragement. It has added weight to the contentions of the enemy [the Empire of Japan] that we are fighting a race war – that this nation preaches democracy and practices racial discrimination.”9

Dillon S. Myer. Courtesy of the War Relocation Authority.

June 1943 The 100th returns to Camp Shelby from maneuvers in Louisiana and meets up with the 442nd RCT for the first time. About 20 MIS Nisei are assigned to Sixth Army headquarters, which lands combat teams on Woodlark and Kiriwina Islands, New Guinea. MIS linguists also accompany the 41st Infantry Division at Nassau Bay.

June 21, 1943
The US Supreme Court rules in separate court cases against Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui, who both challenged their military evacuation orders and were subsequently arrested and imprisoned. 

The Court upholds the constitutionality of the curfew and detention of Japanese Americans.10

June 29, 1943 The Americans invade New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. Accompanying the 43rd Division is a team of ten MIS Nisei. They are joined two weeks later by another team.
July 1943 A team of ten Nisei led by Harry Katsuto Andow is assigned to the Joint Army-Navy Intelligence Collection Agency in New Delhi, India. Another team joins them three months later. July 7, 1943 Company S, comprising Japanese Americans from the MISLS at Camp Savage, joins the 442nd RCT. August 11, 1943 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) leaves Camp Shelby for their first overseas assignment. August 21, 1943 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) sails from Staten Island on the SS James Parker, a peacetime tourist boat.
New York Harbor. Courtesy of Jack Delano, Office of War Information.

August 23, 1943
Basic training for most of the 442nd RCT. ends, although late arrivals continue to come in from incarceration camps.

August 1943
MISLS sends Kiyoshi Hirano and Yutaka Namba to New York to work on confidential translation work. They diligently but unknowingly work through 1944 in support of the Manhattan Project.

John Burden and Tateshi Miyasaki of the 25th Infantry Division Language Section interrogate a POW in the stockade at Vella Lavella. September 1943. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
August 1943 A team of MIS Nisei led by John A. Burden assist American and New Zealand forces on Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.
September 1943 MISLS selects 14 Nisei volunteers to join special forces unit Merrill’s Marauders. MIS Nisei assist American and Australian forces at landings near Lae on the northern coast of New Guinea.
Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, Commander of "Merrill's Marauders," poses between T/Sgt. Herbert Miyasaki and T/Sgt. Akiji Yoshimura. Burma. May 1, 1944. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Tatsuo Yamane in New Guinea. Courtesy of Vincenzo Peluso and Toyoko Yamane-Peluso.
September 2, 1943 The 100th lands in Oran, North Africa, and is assigned to guard supply trains from Casablanca to Tunisia. Wanting frontline duties, 100th Colonel Farrant Turner rejects this, and the 100th is subsequently assigned to the 34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division.
Members of Cannon Company. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
September 3, 1943 About six months after the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was activated, Cannon Company is activated.
September 22, 1943 The 100th lands on the beach at Salerno, Italy, as a part of the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division. Associated Press correspondent Relman “Pat” Morin files a story about the 100th Battalion (Separate) at Salerno eagerly waiting to prove their national loyalty “with smiles of anticipation.” This is the first time Americans become aware that Japanese Americans are fighting abroad.11
September 28, 1943 The 100th Battalion’s first casualty is suffered by Conrad Tsukayama at Montemarano. He is hit by a fragment from an anti-tank mine.
Allied troops land at Salerno, wading through the surf under heavy enemy fire. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
September 29, 1943 First day of combat for the 100th. Baseball star Shigeo “Joe” Takata is the first member of the 100th to be killed in action and the first to receive the Distinguished Service Cross.
Shigeo "Joe" Takata. Courtesy of the United States Department of Defense.

September 1, 1943
Japanese American women are accepted into the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Through the end of WWII, 142 Japanese American women volunteered for the WAC.


October 20, 1943
Platoon and company training for the 442nd RCT begins in Mississippi and continues for a month.

November 1943 MIS Nisei with the 37th Infantry Division join the 3rd Marine Division at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
Robert S. Beightler (right) shaking hands with Dye Ogata (left) during the awarding of Ogata's Purple Heart. Bougainville, 1943. Courtesy of the United States Signals Corps.
November 3, 1943 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Division and the 100th begin offensive attacks against the Germans, crossing the Volturno River for the third time, south of Naples.

November 18, 1943
War Department reclassifies American citizens of Japanese ancestry for military service. It also permits the induction of Japanese aliens who volunteer and who meet certain requirements into the US Army.

Late December 1943 Two MIS Nisei are sent to the G-2 section, Northern Combat Area Command, headquartered in New Delhi, India.

Volturno River


  • 1“Timeline,” 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Education Center, accessed January 29, 2015, http://www.100thbattalion.org/learn/timeline/.
  • 2“Loyalty: a questionnaire,” A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the US Constitution, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, accessed on February 14, 2015, http://amhistory.si.edu/perfectunion/non-flash/loyalty_questionnaire.html.
  • 3Norimitsu Onishi, “Tule Lake Journal: At Internment Camp, Exploring Choices of the Past,” The New York Times, July 8, 2012, accessed January 28, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/us/japanese-americans-seek-answers-at-internment-camp.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
  • 4522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Fire for Effect (Honolulu, HI: Fisher Printing Co., 1998), p. 12.
  • 5The Army Historical Foundation, “232nd Combat Engineer Company,” National Museum or the US Army, accessed February 8, 2015, https://armyhistory.org/232d-engineer-combat-company-nisei-442d-regimental-combat-team/.
  • 6Although the exact phrase did not appear in the transcript of his testimony on April 13, 1943, the newspapers printed the quote and Gen. DeWitt himself would admit to Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy that he had said something “very similar to that.” See images of the transcript of the telephone conversation between DeWitt and McCloy and the extract of DeWitt’s testimony to the House Naval Affairs Committee by Alan Walker, “A Slap’s a Slap: General John L. DeWitt and Four Little Words,” Text Message: The work and discovery of processing and reference archivists on the job, November 22, 2013, National Archives, accessed on January 20, 2015, http://blogs.archives.gov/TextMessage/2013/11/22/a-slaps-a-slap-general-john-l-dewitt-and-four-little-words/.
  • 7James C. McNaughton, Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 2006), p. 205.
  • 8Ibid, pp. 166, 170.
  • 9“The War Relocation Authority and the Incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII,” Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, accessed on February 3, 2015, http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/japanese_internment/1941.htm.
  • 10Jay M. Brown, “When Military Necessity Overrules Constitutional Guarantees: The Treatment of Japanese Americans During World War II,” Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 2015, accessed on January 27, 2015, http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1982/3/82.03.01.x.html.
  • 11Lyn Crost, Honor by Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1997), p. 72.
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