The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage

“Go for broke” was the unit motto of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, the segregated Japanese American military unit that fought in Europe during World War II. “Go for broke” was Hawaiian slang that meant wagering everything on a single roll of the dice.

Starting in 1999, photographer Shane Sato set out to take portraits of Nisei veterans, many of whom served in the 100th/442nd or in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS). The 100th/442nd became the most highly decorated unit for its size and length of service in US Army history, while Nisei in the MIS played a vital role as translators, interpreters and negotiators in the Pacific. Although the original 100th Battalion came from Hawaii, many of the men in the 442nd were recruited or drafted from camps like Heart Mountain. In these photos, Sato set out to show their emotions, personality, and patriotism while fighting for the United States…while their families and friends were imprisoned by that same country.

We’re excited to feature several portraits from Shane Sato’s collection of photos in our gallery for the next several months. Learn more about the history behind the subjects and the project itself below.

Visit Shane Sato’s Go For Broke Spirit website

Documentary Episodes and Films:

Back to Bruyeres: The Legacy of the 100th
Date with History: Go For Broke!
History Channel: “Most Decorated”
Japanese Translators Secretly Helped Win World War II