OGDEN -- Utah veterans of the 110th Infantry/442nd Combat team who received a Congressional Gold Medal in October will be honored at a luncheon Saturday.
Steve Fukushima, a member of the committee organizing the event, set to be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. said he expects close to 1,000 people to attend the luncheon.
Attendees will include families of an estimated 170 Utah veterans of the unit.
About 40 veterans of the unit are still alive in Utah, Fukushima said.
Weber County residents Casey Kunimura, 86, and Noel Okamoto, 88, served in the unit and flew to Washington, D.C., to be part of that ceremony.
The 442nd Combat Team was the most highly decorated unit in World War II. It was made up of Japanese-American volunteers, most of whom were recruited from internment camps where they had been herded with their families as possible enemy aliens at the beginning of the war.
Fukushima said it is ironic that the members of the unit are being honored on Feb. 18, because the next day, Feb. 19, is the 70th anniversary of the day President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the order that sent them and their families to internment camps.
Executive Order 9066 declared an estimated 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent to be potential enemy aliens and ordered them to abandon their homes and move to camps throughout the West, including in Utah.
Young men from those camps were recruited to serve in the 442nd Combat Team, which fought in Italy and France.
Keynote speaker at the luncheon will be Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Vincent H. Okamoto, the most highly decorated Japanese-American survivor of the Vietnam War.
He is a Medal of Honor nominee and received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts and the Army Commendation Medal.
During World War II, members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team received 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars and 9,486 Purple Hearts.