Featuring more than 200 photographs and negatives taken
by Susumu “Sus” Ito (1919-2015), “Before They Were Heroes”
documents Ito’s tour of duty in Europe as a soldier in the
celebrated all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s
522nd Field Artillery Battalion.
Born and raised in Stockton, CA, Ito was witness to
significant turning points in the European
Theater, including the rescue of the Lost Battalion and
liberation of a sub-camp of Dachau. Shot using a prohibited
camera, he went to great lengths to preserve his negatives and
carried his photos nearly 5,000 miles across Europe, where
he had film developed in villages along the way.
Unseen for decades, Ito’s images are presented in this Japanese
American National Museum traveling exhibit, offering a rare look
into the daily lives of the Japanese American soldiers whose
humble and heroic service made the segregated 442nd
Regimental Combat Team the most decorated unit of its size in
U.S. military history.