Billy Tucci had a surprise for us fans in attendance at Baltimore Comic Con this rainy Saturday afternoon. To help him discuss his new book, “Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion,” he was joined by two veterans of the 442nd regimental combat team and a third Japanese American who had served in the Pacific. “Let me introduce you,” he said, “to these brave men who saved the world.”
In October 1944 during World War II, members of the first battalion, 141st infantry, were completely surrounded by German forces. After two failed attempts to rescue them, the 442nd regimental combat team was sent in. This was the regiment composed of Japanese-Americans, many of whom had families in the internment camps back in the United States. Over five days of battle, the regiment suffered nearly 50% casualties, but the survivors of the 141st were free.
Tucci’s new miniseries, “Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion” places Sgt. Rock and Easy Company in the lost battalion. It honors the men of the 442nd, the most-decorated unit in U.S. military history. “When I first heard,” recalled one veteran, “that they were making a comic book about the 442nd, my first reaction was- ‘Wait a minute!’ but when I thought about it a little, I realized this is awesome!”
He and other veterans of the 442nd often speak at schools, and for many people it’s the first they’ve heard that Japanese-Americans were interred. Their hope is that the comic book will reach more people than they ever could, and help them understand the Japanese-American experience of World War II.
Most enlisted men wanted to serve their country. The members of the 442nd also wanted to prove their loyalty, and to hasten the day when their families could get out of the camps.
Tucci didn’t spend much time talking about the book. He wanted to give three real-life heroes time to tell their stories. They described the poor visibility and close combat conditions in the valley that day. US infantry seldom fixed bayonets in the European theater, but fighting was so close that they fixed bayonets several times. The Germans were well entrenched, with multiple machine gun crossfires set up. The American Japanese had to creep close enough to take them out with grenades.
They also spoke of the discrimination they experienced, both before and after the war. Despite all of that, the pride they feel in their country and their service was apparent in every word.
“Sgt. Rock- The Lost Battalion” is currently scheduled for release on November 12th, but they’re working to get it released on the 5th, in time for Veterans Day.