Initially, Nisei men (natural born U.S. citizens) were considered unfit for military service because of their ties to Japan even though they were U.S. citizens. Eventually, the government changed its policy and allowed the recruitment into the military. In the beginning, only 38 men volunteered. However, after the government reinstated the draft for Nisei men, almost 400 were inducted directly out of Heart Mountain.
In all, more than 800 from Heart Mountain served in the military. The military put them in their own unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. For the size of their unit and their short length of service, they were the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. Heart Mountain was the only Japanese internment camp to have more than one Medal of Honor recipient.
All Estelle Ishigo drawings are from 1942-1945 at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, courtesy of the American Heritage Center. See more in the AHC's Estelle Ishigo digital collection. Photographs from the digital collections at the AHC. Newspaper images are from Wyoming Newspapers.
Copyright notice: Digitized collection materials are accessible for educational and personal research purposes.