*The screening for this film will be held Saturday at noon at the JACL Community Hall. Tickets are $17 for members and $22 for non-members.*
A film that highlights a special regiment of the United States Army during World War II will make a special appearance in Lodi Saturday.
“Valor with Honor” is an independent documentary film directed by Burt Takeuchi that is based on more than 35 interviews with Japanese-American veterans who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
The film explores the memories and the stories of the small, segregated unit of 3,500 men, which is the most decorated American unit for its size and length of service — three years.
By the end of the war, the 442nd would be awarded with seven Presidential Unit Citations, 21 Medals of Honor, more than 500 Silver Stars and over 9,000 Purple Hearts, according to Takeuchi.
The film captures some of the heroic efforts of the 442nd, including battles in Italy, the “Lost Battalion Rescue” in France, the assault upon Mount Folgorito, among other events.
The Lodi News-Sentinel spoke with Takeuchi about his efforts behind creating and completing his first feature-length film and the inspiration behind why he chose to cover the men who served so many years ago.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to make this film?
A: I was and still am fascinated by history and making movies. When you grow up in a Japanese community, some veterans will talk about their experiences, but most won’t. I started talking with a few about my idea, and they not only talked to me but helped me get other contacts.
As I went along, I soon realized I had over 30 interviews or videotaped chats. From that, I decided to make the film.
Q: Why did you choose to make this film? What drew you to this particular section of history and to this particular group?
A: I wanted to preserve the memories of these men who were so courageous. Some of stories, in my opinion, were so fantastic, not even Hollywood could make them up. And the best part was these amazing stories were also so real. I didn’t want to let these stories go. I didn’t want to be this middle-aged guy telling stories down the road without any evidence. This film will be something not only people today can enjoy, but future generations can appreciate it as well. It is not just for teachers or historians. It is for everyone.
Q: Did you have any family in the regiment?
A: I had a distant relative, my mother’s cousin. He was transferred into the 442nd ... and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was a decorated soldier ... he won the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.
Q: What do you think people will take away from the film?
A: I think people will have a stronger understanding of what the Japanese-American soldiers went through in World War II and how they feel looking back on their efforts. I think the horror of war will also be better understood.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.