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Weekend of Heroes Nisei Diorama

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ACTION FIGURES AT WAR

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This one was months in the making and involved many people along the way.  Sadly I was not able to make it to this convention myself as I was away across the country visiting family and attending the Hasbro Minneapolis Convention, but I did contribute materials and funding for this diorama. 
 
The idea was to tell the story of the Nisei veterans.  Some enlisted before the war, some were drafted, some were Hawaiian National Guard and some enlisted right out of the relocation camps.  All wanted to fight for their country and contributed to the war effort on all fronts. 
 
A big part of it was the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe.  In the Pacific it was the MIS doing intelligence work on Japanese forces.  On the home front even the civilians got into it working to build war materials and growing crops for the war effort.
 
Today even the veterans turned out to help us promote this diorama.  We had contacted them for more information to put into the diorama and they turned out in force, shared stories, signed 442nd Action figures and attended with their families.
 
We were asked by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles if we would donate this diorama for a permanent display.  They are still working on building an area to display this and hopefully one day all will be able to enjoy this and hopefully learn something.
 
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All pictures are courtesy of Philip Garcia

The Color Guard
Created by Fred Sandoval
Regimental flag created by Philip Garcia

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Rescue of the Lost Battalion
Created by Brett Haber

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Tule Lake Relocation Camp
Created by Armand (LaughingGravy2)
Brett Haber
Tim Kano
Special thanks to Echobase Toys
for donation of barbed wire

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Breakthrough on the Gothic Line
By Armand (LaughingGravy2)

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Monte Cassino
Created by Armand (LaughingGravy2)

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Capture of Italian mini sub
Created by Fred Sandoval

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Explainations of the diorama scenes

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The Color Guard
Created by Fred Sandoval
Regimental Flag by Philip Garcia
 
This is the famous photograph that inspired this diorama scene.  Taken just after the rescue of the Lost Battalion the 442nd RCT was lined up for inspection.  The reviewing officer asked why the entire regiment wasn't on review.  The CO's answer?  "This is all that's left sir!".
 
Rescue of the Lost Battalion
Created by Brett Haber
 
October 1944, a battalion from the 36th Infantry Division was cut off and surrounded.  The 100th Battalion and the 442nd RCT broke thru the enemy lines and relieved the battalion with heavy casualties.  This action is recognized as one of the most famous actions of the 100th/442nd. 
 
This particular scene also depicts an action where Technician Fifth Grade James K. Okubo rescued a tank crewman from a burning tank earning the Congressional Medal of Honor.  You can read his citation here:
 
 

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Tule Lake Relocation Camp
Created by Armand (LaughingGravy2)
Brett Haber
 
Just three months following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Excutive Order 9066 authorizing the internment of civilians of Japanese Ancestry living in the Western United States.  Tule Lake was just one of many Relocation Camps opened thoughout the United States at the beginning of WWII.   Many of the veterans had families living in these camps. 
 
Breakthrough on the Gothic Line
By Armand (LaughingGravy2)
 
In this action the 442nd was deployed as a 'diversion' to the actual offensive.  However the main offensive stalled and the 442nd's 'diversion' caught the Germans off guard and punched thru the Gothic Line.  The Army immediately sent elements into the breach and opened up the Gothic Line ending a six month stalemate.
 
Monte Cassino
Created by Armand (LaughingGravy2)
 
In the opening days of the assault on Monte Cassino, the 442nd was one of the first units to lead the assault on the monastery.  Roughly two thirds of the way up the mountian the assault was stalled by stiff resistance from defending German units.  Finally the Allied Command pulled all units back and bombed the Abbey.  It would be several months before Cassino would finally fall.
 
Capture of Italian mini sub
Created by Fred Sandoval

Pictures of the complete diorama

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Several of the Nisei Veterans showed up and signed autographs of 442nd Action Figures.  These veterans are from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, MIS (Pacific Theater) and the Korean War.  Several of the vets wives also attended.  This is an extra special treat as we are losing more and more veterans every day.  Very few of them remain today. 

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Armand discussing the diorama with the vets

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Manning the autograph table

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Vets with their wives

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Viewing the diorama

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Vets and wives with John Liu, Organizer of the Weekend of Heroes Convention

Special Thanks to:
 
John Liu, organizer of the Weekend of Heroes event who gave us the opportunity to create this diorama and helped promote it.  John also arranged for the Nisei Vets to meet with us and participate.
 
Armand (LaughingGravy2) for his work creating ALL the wooden structures and most of the diorama bases.
 
Fred Sandoval for getting the group together and his work on the diorama.
 
Brett Haber who contributed a great deal of effort and thru his interest, brought the Nisei Veterans into this project. 
 
Philip Garcia who provided the pictures, several figures and with his last minute contribution of his artistic talents helped to recreate the Regimental flag in 1/6th scale. 
 
Henry Hisaichi Kano.  A 442nd/100th battalion veteran and my father.  Thanks Dad for all you did.  Just being you was enough.