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Three Japanese-Americans who fought in World War II to be Veterans Day parade grand marshals

‘Go for Broke’ 442nd Infantry Regiment will be theme of procession
By: Jenifer Gee, Journal Staff Writer
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Frank Kageta said he felt like he always had something to prove. The Japanese-American combat veteran had been confined in a U.S. internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. When he had the chance to enlist in the Army during World War II, he grabbed it — feeling like he finally had the opportunity to show he deserved respect. “We were classified as threats to the country and it didn’t make us feel too good,” Kageta said. “We wanted to get in the service to prove we were just as good as anyone else.” Two other Japanese-American veterans will join Kageta. Kageta, Al Nitta and Shigeo Yokote will serve as grand marshals for this year’s Auburn Area Veterans Day parade. The theme of the commemoration is “Go for Broke.” The theme represents the 442nd Infantry’s contributions to the country during World War II, said Cynthia Haynes, event chairwoman. “These men signed up to go to war while their families were in internment camps,” Haynes said. “That is an ultimate sacrifice. I think that many people don’t realize the contributions the 442nd Infantry made to the success of World War II under very difficult circumstances.” The 442nd Infantry was a combat regiment comprised entirely of Japanese Americans, except for the officers, who were in concentration camps at the time they enlisted. Of the estimated 50 Placer County men who were part of the regiment, Kageta, Yokote and Nitta are the remaining survivors, Haynes said. Nitta said his war experience was also a way to feel validated in America. “Veterans Day means a lot to me because of my background,” Nitta said. “We were in a segregated unit. I was born in segregation and racial bias so I was glad to serve our country to let people know that I am a real American.” The Veterans Day celebration will start with the parade at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce on Lincoln Way and will include other veterans and current enlistees. A rifle squad will present at 21-gun salute, the colors and play taps. Weather permitting, the Flying Doctors will fly over the clocktower in Downtown Auburn. For the remainder of the day, celebrants can enjoy a picnic and a ceremony, guest speakers and patriotic music. Retired Command Sergeant with the Army Reserves Terry Crouson and his son, James Crouson, a sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps, will take part in this year’s ceremony. Terry Crouson will play the guitar during the National Anthem and James Crouson will participate in the color guard with his father. “My brother and I have been going to these events with my father and grandfather since we were little kids,” James Crouson said. “We’re unabashed patriots in my family.” Terry Crouson, who began his military service in the Marines, said he is proud of his family’s military traditions. Both of his sons have joined the Marines. His three brothers were also Marines, one of whom died while on duty. “Veterans Day is a day to honor any and all veterans both living and past,” Crouson said. “In particular it’s a way to honor those who can’t be here because they’re over there looking out for us.” Kageta said he feels the opportunity to serve for his country has been one of his greatest honors. “To me, it’s heartwarming,” Kageta said. “We did have the opportunity to join the service and be classified as a citizen and I think that’s important. We didn’t want to be treated any other way.” The Auburn Area Veterans Day Parade will start promptly at 10:45 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce at 601 Lincoln Way, Auburn. A tribute and barbecue will immediately follow the parade at Auburn Veterans Memorial Hall at 100 East St. For more information, call Haynes at (530) 889-5133 or e-mail . The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at auburnjournal.com. -------- Auburn Area Veterans Day Parade When: 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 Where: Parade will begin in front of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, 601 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Call: Cynthia Haynes at (530) 889-5133 or e-mail clh3@pge.com