Pat told me this remarkable story about the faculty and student body that bought this piece of property in 1945. It was done to remember the students who served and died in WWII. What I discovered, was that my Uncle Yosh was an honor student at CHS who excelled in French and Latin, he was also a prankster and adventuresome young man. He graduated in 1940.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, uncle Yosh and 120,000 other Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and sent to concentration camps around the country. They were treated like criminals even though they were American citizens. Most lost everything they had, and none were ever charged with espionage or any act of war.
While Yosh’s father, brothers and sisters remained behind barbed wire, my uncle volunteered in the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Yosh, like many of the Nisei men (second generation), needed to prove he was a loyal American citizen. By the end of the war, the 442nd became the most highly-decorated group in US military history, garnering more than 18,000 citations.
On Oct. 16, 1944 in the Voges Mountains of France, Yosh was 23 years old. His mission was to rescue the 101st Texas Lost Battalion. It was a suicide mission. The 442nd lost 800 Nisei men to save 210 of the Lost Battalion, and Uncle Yosh lost his life that day.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of my uncle’s death. It’s important to tell this story not only about my uncle, but also the stories of the other students, and how this forest came to be. No one in my family knew about the Forest until 2007, more than 60 years after his death.
War is horrible, tragic, and to me, unnecessary. It affects everyone. Let’s tell the stories and forever remember and honor the students who gave the ultimate sacrifice.