Go For Broke Spirit Exhibit Opens at Heart Mountain

The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage, an exhibit of portraits of Japanese American World War II veterans by photographer Shane Sato, will open Wednesday, April 24, at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.

California-based Sato has spent much of the last 20 years photographing the surviving members of the all-Japanese American 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and its affiliated units. The photos show the veterans in their 80s wearing their former uniforms.

Included in the exhibit are Wat Misaka, the first non-White player in the National Basketball Association, and the Congressional Gold Medal received by James Ito, a former Heart Mountain incarceree who was one of the leaders of the agricultural program in camp. 

Many of the veterans in the exhibit either volunteered to serve while they and their families were imprisoned in War Relocation Authority camps or were drafted. The 100th/442nd was the most decorated unit of its size to serve in the war. 

Sato turned his work into this exhibit and two books — The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage and The Go For Broke Spirit: Legacy of Courage. Both books are available at the Heart Mountain store along with Angels of War, author Mark Cotta Vaz’s dual history of the Japanese Americans units and the all-black 761st Tank Battalion.

“This exhibit took my breath away!” said Aura Sunada Newlin, executive director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. “Both moving and endearing, Shane Sato’s portraits humanize these American soldiers who were fighting for the US abroad while also being targeted as potential enemies at home.”

Sato will speak in person at the Interpretive Center in June as part of Heart Mountain’s workshop for educators sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. That talk will be open to the public.