We owe this one to the Japanese-Americans and Hawaiians, a pidgin phrase meaning ‘To Wager Everything.’
During WWII, many Japanese-American families were relocated to internment camps, but in Hawaii, where around a quarter of the people living there were of Japanese ancestry, internment wasn’t feasible. While relocation was happening on the mainland, the University of Hawaii Japanese-American students in the ROTC were discharged. The discharged students petitioned and won, but were put on military construction duty around the islands.
Due to paranoia, the Hawaiian-based Japanese-American ROTC students were sent to Oakland, California and were bounced two days later to Wisconsin, becoming the ‘Separate’ 100th Battalion, or the ‘One Puka Puka!’
The One Puka-Puka performed so well, that within seven months the U.S. Government reversed its decision on Japanese-American recruitment for the military! They asked for 1,500 Japanese-American men, and in Hawaii alone, 10,000 Japanese-Americans and Hawaiians signed up! Around 800 mainland Japanese-Americans enlisted too, becoming the 442nd Infantry Regiment!
Their motto, ‘Go for Broke’ came from Hawaiian pidgin, and they most definitely wagered everything, pushing past many broken and holed-up battalions, saving thousands in their effort and sacrifice on the European Front.
In the end, around 14,000 Japanese-American and Hawaiian men served in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, and nearly 10,000 of these brave men died. 9,486 soldiers received the Purple Heart.
Thank you to the One Puka-Puka and the 442nd Infantry Regiment.