|Pfc Torao Hayashi|
Pfc. Torao Hayashi, uncle of Bakersfield resident Sandy (Hayashi) Minner, fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, a unit composed of mostly Japanese-Americans who fought in Europe during World War II.
Hayashi was killed in France on Oct. 28, 1944, during the fight to liberate a region in southern France. The 442nd suffered more than 800 casualties, nearly half its force, rescuing 211 members of the “Lost Battalion” in Biffontaine.
“What the 442nd did was instrumental in causing social change,” Minner wrote in an e-mail to The Californian. “After the war, the law that prevented Japanese immigrants, like my grandparents, from becoming U.S. citizens was eliminated. The California law that prevented them from owning land was also eliminated. We owe all veterans from WWII a lot, but people of color owe the 442nd even more. The 442nd paid in blood for the freedom we now take for granted.”
Minner, who sent three letters, went on to write:“In the last letter, he mentions a family photo taken during his last furlough before shipping out, and how he hadn’t received it. He was killed four days later. ... We assume he never saw the photograph.
“It is ironic that the letter from the War Department informing my grandmother of her son’s death was sent first to their old address (near Sacramento). It was then forwarded to the family in the Poston, Ariz., internment camp. You’d think the War Department would be able find out where the family had been interned.”