Bronze statue honors “Go For Broke” veterans

Roseville ceremony Saturday at Santucci Justice Center
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A $150,000 fundraising effort for a permanent monument to honor the Japanese-American soldiers of World War II culminated this past week with the placement in Roseville of a larger-than-life bronze monument. The monument depicts two American soldiers – a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team supporting a wounded member of the 36th Texas Division, now known as the “Lost Battalion” – after a 1944 battle in France. The 442nd came to the rescue of the Texas division, after it had been pinned down in battle. The bronze was installed last Tuesday by sculptor Ronnie Frostad and her crew from the Frostad Atelier in Sacramento. The design concept was the work of Placer County artist France Borka. Auburn’s Ken Tokutomi, a board member with the Placer County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, said the 3½-year effort was complicated by a slowing economy but the result now standing near the Bill Santucci Courthouse was well worth the wait. The Placer County Japanese American Citizens League raised more than $150,000 for the project through donations and grants. “It all started with a dream by France Borka, who grew up in L.A. with kids of Japanese ancestry,” Tokutomi said. “We picked up the ball and ran with it.” In December 2009, Placer County dedicated the memorial site and named the cross street “Go for Broke” Road in honor of the motto of the 442nd. The county also installed a 36-foot diameter compass with a large granite boulder in its center to serve as a base for the monument. A formal dedication of the completed memorial site is planned for May. Still to be added to the site are two polished-granite benches, a large bronze plaque honoring the Military Intelligence Service and internees, engraved names of more than 100 Placer County Nikkei veterans in polished black granite, and nearly 200 commemorative brick pavers. An engraved granite slab honoring acknowledging major donors will also be added. In all, 14,000 Japanese Americans served with the 442nd during World War II. The 442nd is known as the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history, in terms of size and length of service. The bronze memorial – called “Rescue of the Lost Battalion” – also honors members of the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Many of the soldiers who served also endured the hardships of internment and relocation camps.