History of Asian-Americans in the US military


Asian-Americans are the most marginalized racial group in the West. Especially by the social justice crowd who consider Asian-Americans to be part of their list of scapegoated groups known as the so called “privileged”. When we point the hypocrisy displayed by the social justice crowd, they continue to show more hypocrisy by saying that “Asian-Americans haven’t been through as much as other minority groups”. Again quite hypocritical for a political ideology that claims to care about all people and as a result of this marginalization; many parts of Asian-American history are largely unknown to the masses. What most people know about Asian Americans is only the tip of the iceberg as a result of said marginalization. One part of Asian-American history that is often ignored is the military history of Asian-Americans.

1.) War of 1812: The earliest instance of Asian Americans fighting under the US flag, is said to have been in the year 1815. Not much is known about them, except that they were Filipinos. Andrew Jackson reportedly referred to them as “Manilamen”.

battle of New Orleans painting
battle of New Orleans painting

2.) Civil war: There is a lot more information on the Asian Americans that fought in the civil war. It is known that Asian Americans fought for both the Union and confederacy. Asians of various ethnicities(Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Indians etc) all participated in the civil war. For example, in the Union there was a Chinese American who took the name “Joseph pierce” and managed the get promoted to the rank of corporal. Edward Day Cohota was another Chinese American who served in the Union army.

“Joseph Pierce”
“Joseph Pierce”

Spanish American war: It has been reported that around 8 Japanese-Americans and 1 Chinese-American died during the sinking of the Maine. Furthermore, Japanese-Americans also went on to fight for the US during the battle of Manila bay.

History of Asian-Americans in the US military

Philippine-American war: During this war, half a thousand Filipino-Americans fought under the US banner, in fact during this war a Filipino-American soldier named Jose B. Nisperos made history by becoming the first Asian-American to earn the Medal of Honor.

History of Asian-Americans in the US military

Pancho Villa’s raids: During Pancho villa’s raids on US soil, general Pershing led an expedition to fight Villa’s raiders. What many people don’t know is that several hundred Chinese-Mexicans joined forces with Pershing and as a way of saying thanks, Pershing pulled strings in order to allow those Chinese-Mexicans to migrate to the US which was very hard to do as a result of the Chinese-Exclusion act.

General John J Pershing helped Chinese-Mexicans settle in the US.
General John J Pershing helped Chinese-Mexicans settle in the US.

WWI: The Great War saw many different races enlisting in the armies of their nations. Asian-Americans were no exception but only a few actually saw combat, among those who saw combat were Sing Kee and Tokotaru Nishimura. However in Canada more than 200 Japanese-Canadians would serve in the Canadian army, among them was Masumi Mitsui who was a victim of Canada’s treachery during WWII when he was interned in a Japanese-Canadian camp. After he was released from the camps, he went on to live till 1987 but never got to see the official Canadian apology in 1988.

Masumi Mitsui in his Canadian military uniform
Masumi Mitsui in his Canadian military uniform

WWII: The Second World War had a lot more Asian-American participation, specifically from Japanese-Americans. 33,000 Japanese-American men enlisted in the US military as part of the 442nd Regimental combat team, The 522nd field artillery battalion and the military intelligence service. Some Japanese-American women enlisted in the women’s army corps. The 442nd RCT would go on to become the most decorated unit of it’s size and length of service in US military history, while the military intelligence service would be credited with shortening the pacific war by two years. Many of these Asian-Americans would make names for themselves during the war, among them are Daniel Inouye, Barney Hajiro, Young Oak Kim, Spark Matsunaga and many others. Aside from Japanese-Americans, around 29,000 Chinese-Americans served in the US army during WWII as well.

Japanese-American 442nd rct
Japanese-American 442nd rct

Korean War: By then the US army had been desegregated and some veterans from the 442nd RCT also participated in the Korean War. One Japanese-American who participated in the Korean War and earned a Medal of Honor was Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura who held off waves of Chinese communist soldiers by himself, he even bested several Chinese communist soldiers in close quarter combat. Eventually he was wounded and captured but was later released/repatriated and that’s when he received his Medal of Honor.

Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura
Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura

Vietnam war: During the Vietnam war, many ethnic groups fought under the American flags without any segregation. Among them were various Asian ethnicities from Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans and many more. Most notably there were Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans who served in Vietnam. Among those who served were Vincent Okamoto who became the most highly decorated Japanese-American to have survived Vietnam. There was also a special forces team in Vietnam called “team Hawaii” which was composed of Americans of various Asian ethnicities. Aside from fighting the North Vietnamese, they had to also watch out for friendly fire from those who misidentified them as Vietcong.

Vincent Okamoto
Vincent Okamoto

Operation desert storm: By the 1980s and 1990s most of the racial discrimination in the US army was no more. Which means that it shouldn’t be surprising that many Asian-Americans fought in the gulf war as well. Only one Asian-American casualty is recorded.

History of Asian-Americans in the US military

Asian Americans in the current US military: Even today many Asian-Americans have enlisted and are currently enlisting in every branch of the US military. Unfortunately they rarely get any recognition. One of these Asian-American soldiers named Gene Yu who is a former green beret wrote a book series called “Yellow green beret: stories of an Asian American stumbling around the the US special forces”

History of Asian-Americans in the US military
History of Asian-Americans in the US military

Even today, Asian military service is largely unknown by many Americans because it’s rarely given any recognition. Most of the recognition goes to other groups but Asian-Americans often get ignored. But now that more and more Asian-Americans are starting to speak out against this marginalization perhaps Asian-American soldiers and veterans will eventually get the recognition they deserve. Oh and the month of May is Asian-American and Pacific Islander month.















History of Asian-Americans in the US military
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Most Helpful Guys

  • monkeynutts
    Hey it's cool, I think most civilians in general are oblivious to the lives of their fellow citizens, great take, I like reading anything related to military history, and it is important to recognise the sacrifices many people make for their countries, it probably is one of the best ways to demonstrate that multiculturalism is an effective style of life for all modern democracies. When you are on a battlefield and facing possible death, it doesn't matter what your brother beside you looks like or where his parents came from, all that matters is that you fight bravely, look after one another, and hopefully you both make it out of hell alive.
    Is this still revelant?
  • NerdInDenial
    I like to provide a notable Korean American in the Military:

    LT Jonny Kim, Navy Seal, Medical Doctor and Astronauthttps://www.youtube.com/embed/K1c8hEXTvIY
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • BlckGrl
    I honestly never heard anything about Asians being privileged or not suffering as much as others. Seems a bit made up knowing all races come from tragedy also Asian americans are right behind white males in the business world so...
    • Right behind? Incorrect. Asian-Americans and Indian-Americans are both ahead of whites in business

    • @TienShenhan Said who?

    • @lanadelrey25 pewsocialtrends. org

    • Show All
  • SirBearon
    I think you're wrong to a certain degree. You can't quantify which racial group is "most" marginalized. Every single race that is not "white" is marginalized. With that said, woman are far more marginalized in history over any other race. I appreciate your history lesson though. It is well articulated.
    • ADFSDF1996

      Not really, women’s roles throughout history have actually been well documented. Here in the US; schools even teach about the women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the civil war.

    • zagor

      Actually many "white" groups have at times been marginalized to varying degrees. Jews, Catholics, the Irish...

    • SirBearon

      Have been and are marginalized are 2 different things. Of course at some point every race was marginalized.

    • Show All
  • RingOfFire
    Have to agree with this. My father was a Navy officer in WWII and spent part of the war in China. Nothing there particularly relevant to the topic but interesting anyway.

    My neighbors are an elderly Chinese couple in their 90s. The gentleman served in the US Army. Strangely, neither of them speak much English. My only guess was that maybe he was a translator, although if he was translating to English, I'm not sure how that worked. Maybe he was translating Chinese to some other language for US allies. It's all a guess. Sadly, he passed away recently and his wonderful sweet wife survives. These are the best neighbors one could ask for. I mow their lawn for them every summer.

    My sister has an undergraduate and Masters degree in Chinese and speaks fluent Mandarin although we have zero Asian in our ancestry. Unusual for an American I think.

    Two of my first cousins married Chinese women and so their children are Chinese blood relatives of mine.

    Finally, most of my family members have been to China, although I never have.

    So Chinese people and their culture is near and dear to me. Although the current Chinese government is one of the most evil in history.

    I don't have a personal connection with other Asian cultures, but I have seen many traits in people from some of them that I admire.
  • Aiko_E_Lara
    Native Americans are actually Asians so they are technically the first Asians in America. So in 1492, that is when Europe first step in the new world probably mating with the natives in their making the very first half Asians in new world. They are not called Asian Americans yet because USA wasn't established that time untill 1776. So by technicality, the very first "Asian Americans" are those native or half native Americans who were still alive in 1776.
  • lightbulb27
    Thank yoi. Nice work. Its not easy to differentiate people so oir power conservimg amd safety oriented brains go to the simplest answer to id the object. And born is racism... sexism.

    I thoight you might note those conscripted into navy and those that built rail lines.

    I see nothing but success for Asian americans...
  • BCA6010
    In regards to the "modern" aspect, it's largely unknown because they are relatively rare, and very rarely do you see them serving in combat roles. For various reasons, those are the only soldiers you will hear about by name, and when (for example the companies I served in) we never had more than 3 Asian-Americans in a unit with about 120-140 soldiers, it's very unlikely to hear about them in the general public.
    • ADFSDF1996

      We often hear about the native Americans in the army who are even less common than Asians in the army. So there really is no excuse.

      When it comes to WWII facts, everyone knows about the Navajo code talkers because most history teachers/professors mention them but hardly anyone knows about the 442nd RCT because most history teachers/professors ignore them.

    • BCA6010

      Back to modern times, that's largely because native Americans that actively serve are much more vocal about being a warrior. I would also extend this to the Mormon soldiers. With a few exceptions to include one of my best friends, most Asian American soldiers today stick to behind the scenes support roles such as the signal corps and medical jobs.

      In regards to the 442nd, the bulk of their game came during the Italy campaign, which as a whole and especially anything after Sicily is heavily swept under the rug by US history because the Allies like to forget that it was the failure to push into the Alps that deemed the costly landings in France and Holland necessary.

    • ADFSDF1996

      Asians are vocal but they are often ignored by the media or even face blatant discrimination in the army. www.google.com/.../idUSBRE8BH00I20121218

      In regards to the 442nd RCT, It wasn’t just in Italy, they also saw action in France where they rescued the lost battalion and broke through the gothic line.

  • OurManFlint
    This was a really good post. I'd only heard of a couple of the events and even with those I'd had minimal details so most of it was new for me. In the future you should exclude the first paragraph because your position will cause most to reflexively go in search of the argument against your statement, which they will undoubtedly find, and miss out on all of the really good history you provided.
  • jack187625
    America and Canada do NOT make up the west.

    Also, wondering how you would class a Japanese-American, are they expats? Second generation? Half Japanese half European or native American?
    • ADFSDF1996

      A Japanese-American is anyone who has any amount of Japanese ancestry and is a US citizen.

    • jack187625

      So an American then?

    • ADFSDF1996

      “American” is a broad term anybody who has US citizenship can be a American.

  • MackDiddyDaddy
    Asian Americans have higher salaries and net wealth than all other identity groups. The achievement gap between Asians and blacks is astounding. There are only two explanations for this. Either Asians are racially superior or they are hyper privileged. I don't believe in racial superiority so to me Asians need to get their privilege checked in a big way. Just look at elite university admissions. Asians are hugely overrepresented due to their Asian Privilege. As a society we need to collectively check Asian privilege and only allow Asians into universities at their population precentages. Asian salaries and wealth should be taxed to bring it in line with American averages.
    • ADFSDF1996

      LOL it’s so obvious that you are trolling

    • In other words you agree with everything I said.

    • ADFSDF1996

      On the contrary I think everything you just said is nonsense and it shows just how hypocritical the political left wing is.

    • Show All
  • talulahbee
    There's some really great information here, but when u open ur take complaining and crapping on another group of people it really diminishes what u have to say. Most of the people reading the article already have an interest in the topic in some way, but there are people who u could of educated who come from the social justice side that u take issue with, and they will now get nothing from it if they feel attacked from the minute they open it up to read, instead u push them further away.

    A really cool and informative take, and a chance to educate everyone, but kind of wasted in my opinion, u don't need to change the minds of the people who already agree with u.
    • Very well said.
      I agree. Great information and greatly needed but that start is... ugh.

  • Jltakk
    Yep, no one ever talks about Asian-Americans whenever racism is discussed, it's like they don't exist. On a side note, things like Affirmative actions actually hurt Asian-Americans the most, even more than Caucasians because they were statistically scoring better were thus more qualified for Ivy League colleges than any other race in the US. AA actually gave those same Asian-Americans' spots to less performing races. As an African-American, I find the fact that no one acknowledges facts like this about Asian-Americans very sad. Then again, no one is truly taught in school about Asian history either.
  • TienShenhan
    Fantastic piece you have written here! I abolutely agree
  • SetFree
    Leftists will ruin everything if allowed.
  • SuccessfulHornDog
    Very Nicely presented. Glad to have you with us
  • Bismarck_96
    Reminds me of Larry Thorne but different
  • Goooey
    I learned something new :)