Lone Star Flight Museum, JACL Houston Chapter to Co-Host National Exhibition Highlighting Rescue of Texas’ Famed ‘Lost Battalion’
The Lone Star Flight Museum, in partnership with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Houston Chapter, will host “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience” from January 25-April 19, 2020. The national exhibit, sponsored by Go For Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles (GFBNEC), will explore the lasting legacy of the rescue of Texas’ 141st Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers.
“Courage and Compassion” reveals little-known stories of bravery and humanity among everyday Americans during and after the turbulent days of World War II. Funded in part by a grant from the Aratani Foundation, “Courage and Compassion” covers events from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the fateful decision to incarcerate West Coast Japanese Americans in wartime camps to the courageous segregated units of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). Visitors will learn about the Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) WWII experience and its legacy; study the nature of courage during a time of crisis; and consider the relevance of that wartime experience today.
In late October 1944, members of the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry found themselves stranded on a ridge in France’s Vosges Mountains and surrounded by German troops. Two other battalions had tried and failed to break through to the trapped Americans, who were being pounded by enemy fire and were running low on food, water and ammunition. On Oct. 30, 1944, after six days of brutal fighting, the Nisei soldiers of the 442nd RCT finally broke through, rescuing 211 soldiers many of whom were from Texas. The campaign resulted in a staggering number of casualties estimated at more than 400.
Sergeant George Otsuka of the 442nd RCT’s Cannon Company fought in the harrowing “Lost Battalion” rescue. After the war, Otsuka moved to Houston to join family members. When he tried to purchase farmland, he was told to “keep away or there would be trouble.” Otsuka sent a letter to the Houston Press that was published on August 14, 1946, triggering an outpouring of support from the Houston community. “Either Texans must uphold the principles of democracy at home, or either our boys have died in vain,” the Houston Chapter of the American Veteran Committee wrote in a subsequent letter to the newspaper. Otsuka then received many offers of land and finally bought a farm northeast of Houston near Sheldon.
In 1962, Texas Gov. John Connally recognized members of the 442nd RCT as “honorary Texans” for their bravery.
“Courage and Compassion” will be shown at the Lone Star Flight Museum, 11551 Aerospace Ave., Houston, Texas, 77034. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit https://www.lonestarflight.org.
Mitchell T. Maki, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of GFBNEC, noted that “the battle to save the ‘Lost Battalion’ remains one of the most famous engagements in U.S. military history. Their legacy of respect and mutual understanding is particularly relevant today as our society debates issues of loyalty, citizenship, due process and Constitutional rights.”
Lone Star Flight Museum President & Chief Executive Officer Douglas H. Owens, Lt. Gen. (ret.) added, “We are proud to have this exhibit on display at our museum. It is our honor and responsibility to share the remarkable history of the Japanese American soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Courage and Compassion is an amazing exhibit and an ideal lead-in to what will be a summer-long commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the many stories of bravery and sacrifice that resulted in the Allied Forces’ success.”
“The origins of the Nisei soldiers are unique in many respects, and yet it is also a quintessentially American story. Despite their shared Japanese ancestry, the men of the 442nd, 100th, and MIS came from very different backgrounds and represented the entire cross-section of American society,” said David F. Bonner, President, JACL Houston Chapter. “But despite these differences, they formed a bond with one another as well as a shared sense of purpose to fight for the only country they had ever known. Their story of friendship and sacrifice has been beautifully captured in Courage & Compassion, and should be preserved for all future generations to see.”
About Go For Broke National Education Center
Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. Our goal is to inspire new generations to embody the Nisei veterans core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Founded in 1989, GFBNEC maintains the Go For Broke Monument and the interactive Defining Courage exhibition in downtown Los Angeles, as well as extensive oral histories and archives, education and training programs, and other initiatives. For more information, please visit www.goforbroke.org.
About the Lone Star Flight Museum
The Lone Star Flight Museum (LSFM) is a 501c3 aviation museum and STEM learning center with a mission to celebrate flight and achievements in Texas aviation as well as educate and engage our youth through science, technology, engineering and math. In addition to the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, the 130,000-square-foot museum is home to a flying collection of rare and historic commercial, general aviation and military aircraft. Guests can experience the wonder of flight in a warbird ride and get hands-on in the high-tech Aviation Learning Center and Flight Academy. Multiple public and STEM-focused education programs create an unforgettable museum experience for visitors of all ages. Located at Ellington Airport, just 20 minutes from downtown Houston, LSFM is open Tuesday-Sunday. For details, visit lonestarflight.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
For The Lone Star Flight Museum
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Anna Hawley, Vice President of Marketing for Lone Star Flight Museum
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