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Services Searching for Asian Pacific American WW II Heroes

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 13, 1998 – The military services are searching intensively for Asian Pacific Americans recipients of the Army's Distinguished Service Cross or Navy Cross for gallantry in action during World War II.

Officials want to review the awards for possible upgrading to the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross are the nation's second highest decoration for gallantry in action. After a similar review, seven African-Americans last year received Medal of Honor upgrades to lesser wartime valor awards.

The Command History Office of the Army-run Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., is conducting the research, said historian Scott D. Welch. The project encompasses U.S. soldiers and airmen of Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian descent. Researchers also seek leads on affected native Hawaiians, Micronesians, Polynesians, Melanesians and other Pacific islanders.

Welch said the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act called for the Army to determine which of about 4,775 World War II Army Distinguished Service Cross recipients were Asian Pacific Americans. So far, researchers have found 105.

"The legislation also directed the Navy to review all Asian- American World War II Navy Cross recipients -- sailors and Marines," he said. Navy personnel officials said one Asian Pacific sailor received the medal during the war, but no Asian Pacific Marines.

Researchers are collecting data from published materials on individual units and campaigns, public and private archives, ethnic organizations and media, veterans groups and private individuals, Welch said.

"My colleagues and I have attended numerous Asian-American veteran groups' reunions," Welch said. "Families also have been helpful. One never knows what mementos or documents a family or Distinguished Service Cross recipient has preserved in regards to a World War II relative."

Welch said persons with leads and other relevant information can contact him at (408) 242-7864/6116; by fax at (408) 242-7838 or 242-5414; or by e-mail at welchs@pom-emh1.army.mil.

Persons seeking more information or updates on the project can visit the Defense Language Institute World Wide Web site at http://pom-www.army.mil/w3-atzp/mh, or write to:

ATTN: ATZP-MH (Mr. Welch)
Presidio of Monterey, CA 93944-5006

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