BEFORE THEY WERE HEROES

Susumu “Sus” Ito’s World War II photographs

Documenting his tour of duty through Europe as a member of the celebrated all-Japanese American 442nd regimental Combat Team’s 552nd Field Artillery Battalion. Ito went to great lengths to preserve the negatives, carrying his photos nearly 5,000 miles across Europe and having his film developed at villages along the way. Unseen for decades, these images provide a fresh look into the soldier’s lives typically not found in history books.

 

Susumu “Sus” Ito’s World War II photographs document his tour of duty through Europe as a member of the celebrated all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. While Ito participated in such dramatic events as the rescue of the Lost Battalion and the liberation of a subcamp of Dachau, these rare and breathtaking images, taken with a prohibited camera, capture the humble daily lives of young Japanese American soldiers serving in a segregated unit. They are seen posing next to their jeeps, walking in the snow, swimming in a river, playing chess, and even visiting tourist destinations while on leave.

 

Ito went to great lengths to preserve the negatives, carrying his photos nearly 5,000 miles across Europe and having his film developed at villages along the way. Unseen for decades, these images provide a fresh look into the soldiers’ lives typically not found in history books.  Before They Were Heroes is the first in JANM’s Sharing Our Stories series of exhibitions drawn from the museum’s extensive permanent collection.

 

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