Nisei Soldiers of World War II Bronze Medals

Yesterday, the Congressional Gold Medal was collectively awarded to the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service, also known as the Nisei Soldiers of World War II. The gold medal was designed and struck by the United States Mint. As they have done in the past, they have also produced 3 inch and 1.5 inch bronze reproductions of the medal and made them available for sale to collectors.

The award was authorized by an Act of Congress in order to recognize the dedicated service of the Nisei (second-generation Americans of Japanese ancestry) Soldiers during World War II. The text of the law available here provides information on the recipients of the award and their service during the war.

The obverse of the medal, designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Charles L. Vickers, depicts Nisei soldiers from both the European and Pacific theaters. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team color guard is depicted in the lower field of the medal. Inscriptions are “Nisei Soldiers of World War II” and “Go For Broke”, the motto of the 442nd RCT, which was eventually used to describe the work of all three units being honored.

The reverse, designed and sculpted by Don Everhart, includes the insignias the 1100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service. The insignia depict a taro leaf and traditional Hawaiian helmet, the Torch of Liberty shoulder patch, and a sphinx. Inscriptions around the edge include the titles of the three units next to their respective insignias “100th INF BN”, “442nd RCT”, and “Military Intelligence”. The remaining inscriptions are “Act of Congress 2010” on a ribbon and “1941-1946 in the upper right field.

The designs for the medal match the recommendations of both the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. These were selected from a field of three different obverse design candidates and three different reverse candidates. You can read about the CCAC’s discussion of the design candidates here.

The US Mint offers the 3 inch version of the bronze medal for $44.95 and the 1.5 inch version for $7.95.

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  1. simon says

    I did pick up copies of the Women AFS Pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, and Navajo Code Talkers medals. I’m also planning to get one of these but I get the small sizers. They fit nicely in old mint capsules.

  2. Michael says

    “Do they ever put a mintage limit on these?”

    As far as I know, there are no mintage limits established. There also seems to be no restriction on how long the Mint can produce and issue them. Some medals have been available for several years.

    I usually just purchase these if I particularly like the design.

  3. Two Cents says

    Michael, are the mintages for the Mint’s medals known? For the ones still on sale, does the Mint issue a monthly/yearly sales report?

  4. Two Cents says

    And Michael, thank you for highlighting this medal.

    This was a situation that brought out the best and the worst in people. In Washington DC, our leaders believed that the large Japanese population (USA citizens) would turn against their country as saboteurs and spies. The military commander in Hawaii, who knew the people, said that the government was wrong – as a result, only a small fraction in Hawaii were interred in so-called “relocation camps,” while in other states entire neighborhoods were rounded up and “relocated.”

    The Japanese were given just days before they were arrested, and in some cases just a few hours. Most of them had to sell their homes, cars, and belongings to strangers who swept in and bought their assets for pennies on the dollar, while some had their property seized as abandoned. Some lost their businesses with no compensation. All of them could only bring a suitcase filled with clothes and personal possessions with them to the camps. Their money in banks was either seized or frozen, and did not have access to their funds until much later. Some bank accounts mysteriously disappeared during this time.

    They were called spies, traitors, thieves, murderers, and every name in the book. They were forced to live in hastily-built, barracks-style buildings that had to be rebuilt by the Japanese themselves. Their camps were surrounded by barbed wire, guard dogs, and armed soldiers with orders to shoot-to-kill.

    Their American citizenship papers were confiscated and they were denied rights that non-Japanese citizens enjoyed. Every court in the USA upheld the right of the government to commit these unconstitutional acts against them. No Germans or Italians (USA and foreign citizens) were subjected to these same acts.

    And despite being ostracized by society and despite their parents, spouses, siblings, children, and themselves being unfairly imprisoned, thousands of young Japanese men volunteered to fight for America and defend their country against the true enemy.

    It is fitting that the USA recognizes them for their loyalty and perseverance, as well as for their sacrifice.

  5. Dolores says

    You are right Two Cents – my heart is heavy every time I remember that era. I am 74 and have some recollection of WWII – just for that reason, I will buy one of these coins.

  6. simon says

    I was a visitor to the Manzanar camp (CA on hwy 395 in the Lone Pine area) on several occasions before the NPS took it over. On one occasion I went there with a friend whose grandfather was interned in the camp. I was very impressed with historical documents and artifacts at the camp on how the internees lived and carried on their lives. They had school for the children, cultural events, and regular activities to keep them going. Sadly some were also shot and killed for various reasons. I viewed a veritable treasure of chalk drawn art and BW photographs taken on plates and preserved for future generations. One footnote : I recall during that period watching an interview with a senator from that era who voted for the internment, who said that if he had to, he would do it all over again. A very sad outlook on life…

  7. Wylson says

    I really enjoy the converage of interesting medals like this. What a great design compared to the infantry dollar canidates. I think I’ll pick one of these up with my next order.

  8. Zaz says

    It is a grave injustice finally come full circle with reparations and now with the honoring of the 442nd. Politics aside, the medal is really well done with a minimum of ornamentation and gets the message clearly across. Frankly designs are much improved when they are free of the Congressionally mandated language as on coins.

  9. ClevelandRocks says

    True the Japanese Americans were terribly mistreated, but remember our fellow African American soldiers came home from fighting the racist Nazi’s and weren’t allowed to drink from the same water fountain or sit at the same lunch counter as white folks in many places. Remember our Nations Capital, Washington, DC by law did not allow black kids to go to school with white kids until 1954. Pretty spotted history we have here, but hats off to all American Vets!

    Great song by Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park (he is 1/2 Japanese) from his band Fort Minor called “Kenji”. YouTube it and listen. It’s about Manzanar internment camp. Too bad the great design of the medal was not put on a commem.

  10. John C says

    This weeks show of “history detectives” focused on some art work drawn by a Japanese prisoner at one of these camps. They eventually found the artist and visited him, it was an interesting episode. I never knew anything about this dark past until watching the show. It’s a great medal and yes they definitely deserve it.

  11. Hidalgo says

    I recall reading on the US Mint Blog that the review committees preferred to see coins that were as clutter-free as possible. Examples include the current Native American dollar and the Medal of Honor gold coins. You’ll see that they all have basic, clutter-free designs. So that seems to be the reason why the Infantry coin is rather basic in appearance. The same rule does not appear to apply to medals…

  12. Two Cents says

    ClevelandRocks, I looked up the song (“Kenji” by Mike Shinoda of Fort Minor) on YouTube, and the ending line to the song really got to me. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. Nu-bie says

    I love the history lessons I’m sometimes treated to when I read these blogs…details that help give a fuller picture of our world.

    On a lighter note, I think “Go For Broke” should be the new motto on all future U.S. coins. 😉

  14. Brian says

    The discussion here about what happened to Japanese Americans during WWII is exactly why coins are so great. They make us remember or think about the things that they commemorate.

    Are those who served in those divisions the ones who received the gold medals?

  15. Two Cents says


    The gold medal, like all Congressional Gold Medals awarded to a group instead of an individual, is presented to the group collectively, but the actual medal is put on display.

    In this case, the medal is going to the Smithsonian Institute, and presumably be placed into an exhibit about the Nisei’s contribution to WWII. Before it is permanently displayed at the Smithsonian, there are plans for it and its story to be showcased around the country.

    Thanks to Cole Chemicals, the attending Nisei veterans each received a bronze 3″ medal.

  16. youngboy says

    Why is it the the price on the medal is way higher on the 3 inch $45 and on the 1.5 inch is $8. it seem way off, just saying.

  17. VABEACHBUM says

    Same on this end; in stock and reserved, w/ a temp charge against the credit card. The distribution center may not release sets for another 3-4 days, though. If history is any indicator, some orders have sat on the “in stock and reserved” status for 3-6 days. Just this once – let it be 2-3 days!!

  18. John says

    AE 25th Set says In Stock and Reserved. Appears to have a temp charge on the card too. Did anyone else get the following letter from the Mint?

    Dear United States Mint Customer:

    We are fully aware of the difficulties many customers encountered last week with the release of the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Set. We would like you to know that we have undertaken an aggressive review of how we brought the product to market so we can better serve all of our customers in the future. Dick Peterson, the Deputy Director of the United States Mint, has also directed that the bureau review all future product offerings to ensure that we apply to them the lessons we learned from the marketing of the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Set.

    One of the principal sources of frustration was our web and phone order-taking system. As many of you know, we are in the process of updating our order management system. Our current system is very outdated and we recognize that it does not serve our customers well. Accordingly, we recently selected a contractor that will develop and implement our new system—one that will be modern and comparable to other top-rated retail Web sites. Unfortunately, this transition will take some time; we are anticipating that the new system will be in place by fall 2012.

    Our aim is to work earnestly to ensure that the inconvenience and frustration that our regular customers may have encountered last week is mitigated in 2012 as we re-examine our product launch strategies and systems. We value our relationship with you and are committed to serving you professionally and responsively. You deserve no less!

    The United States Mint

  19. DR JOE says

    Order # 38342XXX @ 1:43 still ‘in process’. Also have an order the next day for 5oz coin and it is still ‘in process’. Kinda miss the excitement on this blog this last week. Bronze medals just don’t stir the juices. We need a new hot topic-like ending the dollar bill or a scandal in the grading process.

  20. Coin Man says

    Amazing, barely any 2011 Anniv. sets available on Ebay and prices are going up slowly, daily as I am tracking it. We might have a small dip in prices once folks get their sets and start selling them on Ebay but all my 5 sets are for sure going to my safe!!!

  21. John says

    My order was 38324XXX (referred to on here many times as one of the first orders). My order just updated to Shipped and now has a tracking number. UPS still doesn’t have a record of the tracking number in their system yet though. I would expect that other orders will be shipping soon as well.

  22. James says

    I have a 2006 American buffalo 1 oz. purchased from the mint that is leaking copper, as explained by a coin dealer. I thought that 99% pure did not have any copper. Any comments, has anyone seen this before?

  23. Two Cents says


    Did you actually purchase this Buffalo coin directly from the Mint ?

    The American Buffalo Silver Commemorative was dated 2001 and is not one ounce of 99% pure silver. It is 26.73 grams of 90% silver/10% copper.

    The only American Buffalo coin in 2006 was the Gold Bullion and Proof coins of one ounce .9999 fine 24K gold.

    What do you mean your coin is “leaking copper?” I have never heard of anything like that happening, unless the two metals were not mixed properly and there are coppery streaks on the planchet.

    I have a feeling that your “coin” is actually a non-Mint product, a replica made of copper with silver plating, and the coating is wearing off, revealing the copper inside.

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