Lost Battalion (Europe, World War II)
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|Commanders and leaders|
|Charles Pence (442nd)||Walter Rolin|
|Casualties and losses|
"The Lost Battalion" refers to the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry (36th Infantry Division, originally Texas National Guard), which was surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains on 24 October 1944.
Against the advice of his senior officers, Maj. General John E. Dahlquist committed the "Texas Battalion" to an engagement. The battalion was cut off by the Germans, and attempts by the 36th Division's other two battalions to extricate it failed. The 405th Fighter Squadron of the 371st Fighter Group airdropped supplies to the 275 trapped soldiers, but conditions on the ground quickly deteriorated as the Germans continued to repel U.S. forces.
The final rescue attempt was made by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit composed of Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans. The 442nd had been given a period of rest after heavy fighting to liberate Bruyères and Biffontaine, but General Dahlquist called them back early to relieve the beleaguered 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 36th. In five days of battle, from 26 October to 30 October 1944, the 442nd broke through German defenses and rescued 211 men. The 442nd suffered over 800 casualties. I Company went in with 185 men; 8 walked out unhurt. K Company began with 186 men; 17 walked out. Additionally, the commander sent a patrol of 50–55 men to find a way to attack a German road block by the rear and try to liberate the remainder of the trapped men. Only five returned to the "Lost Battalion" perimeter; 42 were taken prisoner and were sent to Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Bavaria, where they remained until the POW camp was liberated on 29 April 1945.
The 442nd is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service, with its component 100th Infantry Battalion earning the nickname "The Purple Heart Battalion" due to the number injured in combat.
In 1962, Texas Governor John Connally made the veterans of the 442nd "honorary Texans" for their role in the rescue of the Lost Battalion. Three members of the 442nd, Barney Hajiro, James Okubo, and George Sakato, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their participation in the rescue, although due to the discrimination of that era, they were originally awarded lesser medals; a review in the 1990s resulted in them being upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which the men received in 2000, Okubo posthumously. A special law was passed in 2010 awarding members of the unit, and those of the Military Intelligence Service, the Congressional Gold Medal, for which a ceremony was held at the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol in October 2011, followed by local ceremonies in California, Hawaii, and other states from which unit members had been unable to make it to Washington, D.C.
- Video: Armistice Day In France Etc. (1944). Universal Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- Williams, Rudi. "The 'Go For Broke' Regiment Lives Duty, Honor, Country" (25 May 2000), American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Grubb, Abbie Salyers. "Rescue of the Lost Battalion". Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Tanaka, Chester, Go For Broke: A Pictorial History of the Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, (Novato: Presidio, 1997), p 99.
- Kakesako, Greg K. "Today, an old wrong is righted as 22 Asian-American heroes are awarded the nation's highest honor for bravery in battle" (21 June 2000), Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 21 November 2014.