Colonel Young Oak Kim became the most decorated soldier in the 100th/442nd, despite being one of the few non-Japanese among its ranks. In fact, after being assigned to the unit, he was offered a transfer out, only to refuse, declaring "there is no Japanese nor Korean...we're all Americans and we're fighting for the same cause." Kim's courage won him 19 medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts, During the Korean War, Kim became the first person of color in U.S. history to command an Army combat battalion.

Discussion Questions

  1. 1.The soldiers of Sunset Squad fight for their country despite the treatment of their families back home—mirroring the decision of the real-life men of the 100th/442nd. Would you have made the same decision?

  2. 2.A number of Japanese Americans who were conscripted to serve during WWII refused to do so because of a controversial questionnaire whose questions implied allegiance to a country other than their own. In refusing to agree to these questions, one asking if they were willing to serve, the other asking them to forswear their loyalty to the "Japanese Emperor," these men became known as “No-No Boys.” If you were in these men’s shoes, how would you respond to the call to serve?


Top to Bottom:

1. The meta-human heroes of the "Sunset Squad"

2. Capt. Matt Kim, leader of the squad

3. At center: the real-life
Col. Young Oak Kim, inspiration for Capt. Matt Kim.

Heroes Without a Country, pg. 29

Story by: Daniel Jai Lee; Art by: Vince Sunico

“Heroes without a Country” follows a superhuman taskforce called the Sunset Squad as they trek across Germany in order to rescue Samson, a Jewish American superhero captured by the Nazis. Modeled after the legendary nisei 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, the members of the Sunset Squad are Japanese American super-soldiers assembled under the command of Captain Matt Kim—a character inspired by real-life 100th Battalion hero Colonel Young Oak Kim (the unit's sole Korean American soldier). Along the way, the Squad battles Hitler’s own team of metahumans, witness the unspeakable horrors of war and ponder what it means to fight and die for a country that treats them and their families as second-class citizens.

The 100th Battalion/442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team was an all-Asian American military unit made up almost exclusively of nisei, second-generation Japanese American soldiers who had volunteered for service in order to prove their community's loyalty to the nation of their birth—even as their families and friends were unjustly imprisoned behind barbed wire back home. They fought primarily in the European theater, displaying such bravery and self-sacrifice that they remain today the most highly decorated military unit in the history of the United States Armed Forces: Their members earned a staggering 21 Medals of Honor, and suffered so many combat injuries that they were subsequently nicknamed “The Purple Heart Battalion.”