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Asian/Pacific American Military Timeline

[Sent to CHCP for Memorial Day, 1999 by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.]

By Rudi Williams

American Forces Information Service

WASHINGTON — Asian Pacific Americans were the last group of immigrants to flood the shores of America, “the melting pot of the world.”

Until World War II, there had been little effort to document their contributions to United States history and culture.

The following is an extract of significant dates in Asian Pacific American contributions to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the nation that were compiled by Robert L. Worden of the Library of Congress for a calendar produced by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute:


1-1969: Japanese American Army Staff Sgt. Rodney James Tadashi Yano earns posthumous Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam.

4-1913: Yonosuke Enouye dies; was an early Japanese American graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1891.

6-1916: Korean American Army Lt. Col. Herbert Choy born; becomes first Asian American named to federal court (U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, 1971).

16-1942: Army Sgt. Jose Calugas, a Filipino, earns Medal of Honor for heroism in the Philippines during World War II.

21-1915: Navy Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo de la Crux Trinidad, a Filipino, earned Medal of Honor during boiler explosion incident aboard the USS San Diego.

28-1986: Astronaut Air Force Lt. Col. Ellison Shoji Onizuka dies in Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Onizuka, a Japanese American, served on the first DoD space shuttle mission.

29-1961: Air Force Academy distinguished graduate (1982) Joginder Singh Dhillon, an Indian American, born. Dhillon is thought to be the first Asian American to attain this honor.


2-1848: Ship Eagle arrives in San Francisco with two Chinese men, one Chinese woman.

19-1942: U.S. War Department authorizes first Filipino infantry battalion from among Filipino Americans.

19-1942: President Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 providing for internment of Japanese Americans.

20-1943: 1,200 Filipinos serving in U.S. armed forces granted citizenship.

23-1942: Japanese Americans join noncombat engineer’s auxiliary in Hawaii.

24-1943: Filipino American Maj. Gen. John R. D’Araujo Jr., director of the Army National Guard Bureau, born. He’s thought to be the first Filipino American to hold the rank of major general and the first to hold that position.


20-1969: Japanese American Army Cpl. Terry Teruo Kawamura earns posthumous Medal of Honor for saving friends’ lives in Vietnam.

21-1940: Japanese American Citizens League pledges loyalty to United States.


5-1945: Japanese American Pfc. Sadao S. Munemori earns posthumous Medal of Honor for saving the lives of others in Italy during World War II.

9-1972: Retired Army Lt. Col. Gero Iwai dies; was earliest and most senior Japanese American to serve in military intelligence during World War II.

17-1900: U.S. flag raised over Samoa for the first time.

25-1951: Japanese American Cpl. Hiroshi H. Miyamura earns Medal of Honor in Korean War action.


1-1898: Japanese Americans serve on U.S. warships in Battle of Manila Bay.

22-1882: U.S.-Korean treaty allows Koreans to immigrate to the United States.

31-1987: Hoang Nhu Tran, a former boat person, valedictorian of U.S. Air Force Academy in class of 960 students. He was also a Rhodes Scholar and Time magazine’s recipient of the 1986 College Achievement Award.


1-1942: U.S. Military Intelligence Service Language School adds more Japanese American instructors.

7-1904: Kiro Kunitomo dies; the Japanese American was an early Asian graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1877.

21-1861: Chinese American John Tomney joins New York Infantry, later dies of wounds at Battle of Gettysburg (1863).

29-1863: Chinese American Hong Neok Woo joins Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, serves in Civil War.

29-1946: Congress passes GI Fiancees Act, enabling women or men engaged to U.S. service members to immigrate to United States.


3-1943: First Filipino infantry battalion sent to Pacific Theater.

4-1946: Philippines gains independence.

15-1946: The 442nd “Go for Broke” Regimental Combat Team receives the Presidential Distinguished Unit citation from President Truman in Washington. The unit was the most decorated for its size and length of service in U.S. military history. From 1943 to 1945, members received seven presidential unit citations and more than 18,000 individual awards, including one Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 9,486 Purple Hearts.

19-1993: Japanese American World War II hero Sgt. Roy H. Matsumoto inducted into U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. Matsumoto was honored for extraordinary courage and service with the 5307th Composite Unit, “Merrill’s Marauders.”

23-1863: Chinese American William Ah Hang becomes one of the first Asian Americans to enlist in U.S. Navy during Civil War.

28-1959: World War II hero Army Capt. Daniel K. Inouye, holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, becomes first Japanese American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1959-63); later becomes U.S. senator.


11-1943: All-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team departs for Europe.

14-1952: Filipino American Sgt. LeRoy A. Mendonca posthumously presented Medal of Honor for gallantry in repulsing the enemy on July 4, 1951, in Chichon, Korea.

21-1959: Hawaii becomes 50th state.


4-1943: All-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, lands at Salerno, Italy.

12-1934: Maj. Gen. John Liu Fugh born; first Chinese American to obtain general officer rank in U.S. Army.

14-1950: Vietnamese American space shuttle astronaut Eugene Huu-Chau Trinh born.

16-1927: Chinese American Abe Lee born; becomes Golden Glove and National AAU champion boxer and, later, U.S. Navy veteran.

18-1997: Design concept unveiled for National Japanese American Memorial in Washington. Initially intended to commemorate Japanese American war veterans, the purpose has been extended to honor the patriotism of all Japanese Americans during World War II.

24-1911: Filipino Army Pvt. Jose B. Nisperos earns Medal of Honor for heroism in Philippines.

27-1922: Benjamin Menor born; becomes first Filipino to serve in U.S. legislature (Hawaiian State Senate, 1962-66).


5-1959: Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Chinese American Maya Ying Lin born.

10-1928: Samoan American Medal of Honor recipient Army Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau born. He made “gallant self-sacrifice” in 1951 during the Korean War.

11-1994: Chinese American Frederick Pang sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy.


1-1941: Japanese Americans start teaching at Army intelligence school.

8-1944: The 442nd Regimental Combat Team rescues 211 survivors of the 36th Infantry (“Texas”) Division’s “Lost Battalion” in France at a cost of 200 killed and 600 wounded.

11-1939: William Shao Chang Chen born; becomes first Chinese American to be appointed major general in U.S. Army.


4-1943: Military Order No. 45 exempts Korean Americans from enemy alien status.

8-1869: Jiunzo Matsumuna, first Japanese midshipman at U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1873), admitted.

9-1943: U.S. Senate passes resolution granting Philippines independence as soon as conditions return to normal after World War II.

15-1943: First Chinese American officer in U.S. Marine Corps, Wilbur Carl Sze, commissioned as second lieutenant.

17-1943: President Roosevelt signs repeal for Chinese Exclusion Act; soon thereafter 14,000 Chinese Americans drafted into armed forces.

20-1941: U.S. Congress resolutions allows almost unlimited enlistment and employment of Filipino Americans in war effort.

22-1987: President Reagan signs American Homecoming Act allowing immigration to U.S. of Vietnamese children with American parentage.

27-1944: U.S. War Department ends internment of Japanese Americans.

29-1941: As of this date, 50 Korean Americans had registered for California National Guard duty.

31-1933: Lt. Gen. Allen K. Ono born, the Army’s first three-star Japanese American.

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