A searing portrait of war and prejudice, this new motion picture will take you on a haunting journey into the hearts and minds of the forgotten heroes of World War II – the all-volunteer, Japanese-American 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, there were 5,000 Japanese Americans serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Overnight, these second-generation citizens were stripped of their official duties – simply because they looked like the enemy.
On the mainland, 120,000 innocent men, women and children were rounded up and swept into remote internment camps, where they would remain behind barbed wire for the duration of the war.
Determined to prove their loyalty, the discharged Hawaiian Territorial Guardsmen of Japanese descent successfully petitioned the U.S. government to allow them to serve. These 1400 Hawaiian Nisei (second-generation Japanese-Americans) became the 100th Infantry Battalion.
In July 1943, after rigorous training, they were sent to North Africa, then Italy. Fiercely courageous, they suffered so many casualties the 100th was soon dubbed the “Purple Heart Battalion.”
In June 1944, they were joined by the 442nd – comprised of Nisei volunteers from the internment camps and Hawaii – and proceeded to liberate five towns in Northern Italy.
That September, they were shipped to Southern France and freed three more towns, before being recruited for what would become one of the top ten most important battles of World War II – the impossibly-dangerous rescue of the Texas “Lost Battalion.”
Two hundred and seventy-five men of the Texas' 36th Division had been trapped for more than a week on a high plateau in France’s Vosges Mountains, surrounded by 7000 experienced German soldiers. Allied planes tried dropping them food and ammo, but the supplies kept rolling out of reach down the ridge.
When attempts by much larger regular-Army units failed to break through, the 100th/442nd was ordered to finish the job. Though their ranks were already decimated and the Nisei were unimaginably exhausted, they spent four days and nights in brutal uphill hand-to-hand combat – while suffering frostbite and trench foot so severe they could hardly walk.
The Nisei saved 211 out of the 275 Texans, but suffered more than 800 casualties of their own. During two years of combat, their extraordinary valor resulted in an unparalleled 21 Medals of Honor, 9486 Purple Hearts, eight Presidential Citations, 53 Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars and 5200 Bronze Star Medals – making them the most decorated unit of their size and length of service in American military history.
“ONLY THE BRAVE” is the first motion picture about the 100th/442nd as seen through the eyes of the men who lived it. Written and directed by award-winning playwright Lane Nishikawa, the story was based on the actual experiences of his three Nisei uncles who served in the 100th/442nd – as well as other veterans who shared their memories with him over the years.
The film captures the personal tragedies and sacrifices of the soldiers – played by Jason Scott Lee, Mark Dacascos, Yuji Okumoto, Greg Watanabe and Ken Narasaki – during the final days of their rescue of the Texas “Lost Battalion” (represented by Jeff Fahey and Guy Ecker).
Nishikawa also stars as the platoon leader, who is haunted by the death of his father (Pat Noriyuki Morita) and the hardships on the wives and girlfriends left behind (Tamlyn Tomita and Emily Liu).
A Mission From Buddha Production, “ONLY THE BRAVE” was produced by Karen Criswell, Eric Hayashi, and Jay Koiwai and funded in part by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and donations from families of veterans who served in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service – spearheaded by the National Japanese American Historical Society.
This long overdue film has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (a WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient who lost an arm while serving with the 100th/442nd), U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, U.S. Congressman Ed Case, and such organizations as the 100th/442nd Veterans Associations of America, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Japanese American National Museum and the Go For Broke Educational Foundation.