WWII vets fly on ‘Spirit of Go For Broke’

3/21/2008 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN)  — After waiting for more than a year and a half from the christening of the seventh C-17 Globemaster III added to Hickam Air Force Base’s fleet of eight, the men for whom it was named finally got their ride March 13 here. A group of 40 surviving veterans from the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion shuffled onboard to the "Spirit of Go For Broke" and took to the sky for a 45-minute tour around some of the Hawaiian Islands. Not only was the flight a historic occasion for the World War II vets, there was a special flight for a father and son. Chief Master Sgt. Irvin Yoshino, the superintendent with the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing F-22 Raptor Program Integration Office was able to go on the flight with his father, 87-year-old George Yoshino who was a rifleman with company K, 442nd RCT, from 1944 to 1946.

Surviving members of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion pose in front of one Hickam Air Force Base’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft the "Spirit of Go For Broke," which was named after the motto of the historic World War II Army units that consisted of Japanese Americans mostly from Hawaii. The "Go For Broke" unit was one of the most highly decorated units during WWII. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)


"Being here with my father and accompanying him on the fight was a special time for both of us. It has taken me an entire career to get my father out here to see what I do," said Sergeant Yoshino. "This is a great way to honor these veterans and what they did for our country."

"We were in the European Theater of Operation and served in Italy. In August 1944 at age 23, I was a replacement soldier and much older than the earlier group who were mostly 18-years-old, and just out of high school," Mr. Yoshino said. "To be remembered by the military is a great honor."

The flight was a mission of the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 204th Airlift Squadron, boasting a crew of all Guardsmen who fly the C-17 as an associate unit with the active duty 535th Airlift Squadron at Hickam AFB.

During the flight the veterans got to tour the cockpit for spectacular views of the Hawaiian Islands, and they interacted with the crew were they learned about modern air mobility and global reach.

"Today was a great privilege for them to invite us to fly on this magnificent modern airplane. I could not believe in my life time, I would get this opportunity," Mr. Yoshino said.

After the flight the veterans were treated to a catered meal at the 154th Wing dining facility. "This is a lot better than the Army chow of K-rations we used to get," said Mr. Robert Arakaki, the 100th Infantry Battalion association president. "A K-ration was usually packages of dried biscuits with canned meat and eggs, but they were better than nothing."

Chief Master Sgt. Alan Ogata, the 204th Airlift Squadron superintendant thanked the vets for their service to country, for coming out and spending their day with the unit and taking the flight.

"You all are our heroes, we are proud to be in your presence here today," said Sergeant Ogata.

The 442nd RCT was composed mostly of "Nisei," or second generation of Japanese-American soldiers, who wanted to prove their loyalty to the U.S. — many of their families were interned in camps while they fought during the war. To the members of the 442nd RCT, "Go For Broke" meant to be all-in with nothing to lose.

The courage of these veterans led them to be the most decorated in our country’s history and included the award of 9,846 Purple Hearts and 21 Medals of Honor.

"It’s a great privilege to come into contact younger members of the armed forces here today and represent our unit the 442nd Regimental Combat Team," Mr. Yoshino said. "If I had to do it all over again, I would have a hard time keeping up with them, flying these great airplanes."


Source: Air Force News Agency (AFNEWS) - by Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski - Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Picture provided and copyrighted by Air Force News Agency (AFNEWS)
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