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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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.