Japanese-American WWII vets from Placer County to receive Congressional Gold Medal

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A Placer County contingent of Japanese-American combat veterans will be in Washington, D.C. to receive Congressional Gold Medals for their service in World War II with the 442nd Infantry Regiment. 442nd members Frank Kageta and Norman Kamada, both of Rocklin, will be part of a larger group to be awarded the medals. As well as the 442nd, members of the 100th Infantry Battalion and Military Intelligence Service or their families will also receive the medals – the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress. The medals are awarded through votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate, before being submitted to the President to be signed into law. That was done last year, setting the stage for a ceremony that more than 1,200 people will attend Wednesday. Kageta, 91, a retired Placer County Water Agency employee, said he hadn’t followed the legislation closely but friends said that he should accept the medal at the Washington ceremony. “I don’t claim to have done something outstanding,” Kageta said. “I’m just another Japanese-American soldier who was in the service for his country.” Commonly known as the Go For Broke regiments, the 100th and 442nd are the most highly decorated units for their size and length of service in U.S. military history. Kageta received a Bronze Star but said he’s most proud of the combat veteran medal. “In combat, you really meet your enemy,” he said. “That’s the important part.” Kageta lived for many years in Loomis before moving to Rocklin three years ago. His son, Del Oro High School teacher Stuart Kageta, said that the Gold Medal also represents a validation of the stance Japanese-Americans took when they showed loyalty to the U.S. and joined the military out of the internment camps. “Our family’s just super proud of those decisions he made,” Stuart Kageta said. “He paved the way for us as minorities to pursue whatever goals we have. They took the high road for future generations.” In Placer County, Japanese-American veterans have been honored as grand marshals at the 2008 Auburn Veterans Day parade, a monument at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville and the naming of the road to the center “Go For Broke Road.” Plans are also moving forward on a statue to honor the soldiers at the Roseville site.