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Before They Were Heroes: Sus Ito’s WWII Images

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January 22 – March 17, 2019

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.