The fall of Rome just before D-Day had boosted morale but it had not ended the fighting in Italy. The Allies had failed to destroy the German army, and as it fell back, Hitler sent in reinforcements, resolved to make the Allies pay for every inch of territory they gained.
Among the Americans in closest pursuit were the Japanese-American men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, fresh from training and eager to demonstrate their loyalty to the government that had forced so many of them and their families into internment camps. It had not been easy to persuade the military to give them that chance. General Dwight Eisenhower's staff had initially rejected the idea of Japanese-American troops, but General Mark Clark, commander of the Fifth Army in Italy, had said that he would "take anybody that will fight."
The 442nd would find themselves fighting alongside the battle-tested 100th Infantry Battalion, made up mostly of Japanese Americans from Hawaii, who had been in Italy for months. They had fought so bravely and lost so many men, that they came to be called the "Purple Heart Battalion." Together, the newcomers of the 442nd and the combat-wise survivors of the 100th would help spearhead the Fifth Army's drive northward from Rome.
Over the next few weeks, Japanese-Americans would distinguish themselves at Belvedere, Sasetta, Castellina, Pastina, Loranzana, Luciana. The 442nd/ 100th fought so well and so hard that when General Mark Clark led his men into the important city of Livorno, he insisted that they march behind him.
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