The Nisei first had the opportunity to join the army on January 28, 1943 when Henry L. Stimson the Secretary of War stated that the Nisei in the internment camps could volunteer for the armed services. The Nisei were still classified by the selective service as undesirable aliens. The men who were accepted were to be formed into a separate Nisei Battalion Unit. Three hundred Nisei from Amache eventually volunteered to serve in the military. Due to an admiral record of the Nisei battalions on January 11, 1944 the War Department announced that all Nisei would now be eligible for the draft.
The notion of being drafted into an army which was holding them and their families as prisoners did not appeal to a number of Japanese-American men. Several meetings and protests were held at Amache. The organizers of the protests were evacuees who had formerly been residents of Tule Lake and members of the Buddhist faith. On February 26, 1944 evacuees at Amache drafted a petition which demanded rights and eleven separate concessions from the United States government. "Their demands revolved around an insistence that the government recognize their equality, worth, and due 'rights and privileges which the Constitution of the United States gives them'" (Chang 1996: 80). One of the eleven concessions further demanded that the Japanese-Americans who were drafted for combat be evenly distributed within all of the units and not segregated into separate units.
Despite the protests at Amache when the first draft notices were received by 53 men, 48 promptly reported to their local recruiting office for induction into the armed services. The five men who refused to report were immediately taken into custody and turned over to the F.B.I. Two of the five changed their minds and were inducted into the army. The remaining three were tried and convicted of draft evasion and spent the rest the of war in federal prison. In total Amache had 31 evacuees who were convicted of draft evasion (Schwartz 1979: 38).
The reaction to the soldiers from Amache were at first cruel. Parents refused to be seen with their sons and daughters when they returned to Amache on temporary leave. As the troops in Europe won worldwide acclaim the attitudes of the evacuees at Amache eventually changed. Upon the return of troops the evacuees at Amache honored them with dances and shows. "Parents who had rejected their children several months before, now proudly showed themselves with the young men and women, and the military service became an important part of the center's history" (Holsinger 1960: 74).
The two Japanese-American combat teams were the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was mostly formed by Nisei from the mainland, and the 100th Infantry Battalion composed mostly of Nisei from Hawaii. There were a total of 18,000 individual decorations awarded to the 442nd. Almost 600 men were killed in the 442nd and over 3,000 men wounded. Amacheans received 38 combat pins and combat infantry man's badges for exemplary conduct under fire as well as various other medals and citations (Schwartz 1979: 35). In total 31 soldiers from Amache were killed in action.
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