BOISE -- Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Sen. Mike Crapo awarded some long overdue medals to a couple members of the greatest generation Thursday.
George and Joe Koyama are 91 and 88 years old respectively. They are brothers who live in Nampa. But almost 70 years ago, they were heroes. They still are, and got that recognition for their service in World War II.
Joe served stateside at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. George fought in France and Italy. He was wounded by a grenade while manning a foxhole on the Italian border and already received the Purple Heart. Thursday, they both received the Nisei Soldiers of World War II Bronze Medal. George was also awarded the Bronze Star.
Sen. Crapo talked about the distinction of their service, considering it was happening when other Japanese-Americans were being put into internment camps. "The service of George and Joe came at a particularly difficult time, when other Japanese-Americans were being incarcerated in the United States, incarcerated right here in Idaho. Yet, they were willing and able to go out and serve their country."
The Nisei Soldiers Medal is a duplicate of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded collectively to the entire 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was almost completely made up of Japanese-Americans.
That Idaho internment camp was in Jerome County, and is now a National Historic Site. A site representative thanked George for his service in helping them preserve the history of that place.