Young O. Kim

(1919 - 2006) World War II and Korean War veteran

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Colonel Young Oak Kim (U.S. Army Ret.) was a decorated combat veteran as a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II and a respected community leader. He was born in 1919 in Los Angeles, CA to Korean immigrants.

Following the outbreak of war, he was assigned to the “all-Nisei” 100th as a young officer, but was given a chance for reassignment because the common belief was that Koreans and Japanese did not get along. He rejected the offer stating that they were all Americans. A natural leader with keen instincts in the field, Colonel Kim’s battlefield exploits are near legendary.

Colonel Kim continued to serve his country in the Korean War where he became the first minority to command an Army combat battalion. He retired from the Army in 1972. He was awarded 19 medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, and the French Croix de Guerre.

Later in life, Colonel Kim served the Asian American community by helping to found the Go For Broke Educational Foundation, the Japanese American National Museum, the Korean Health, Education, Information and Research Center and the Korean American Coalition among others. He died from cancer on December 29, 2005 at the age of 86. (August 8, 2008)

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