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Painting Honors Heroic Nisei Troops

January 30, 1998|JEFF KASS

They were some of the most decorated World War II soldiers, earning more than 18,000 individual decorations.

The Japanese American troops of the U.S. Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion fought in Europe while many of their families were held in detention camps in the United States.

To keep that story alive, 72-year-old Santa Ana resident Dorothy Davenport has created a painting, 8 feet wide and 4 feet high, of the soldiers that she plans to hang in the 442nd/100th veterans hall in Los Angeles.

"I think people should know about them," said Davenport, whose late husband, William Davenport, served as an officer in the 442nd. Davenport's colorful painting is based on a photograph of President Harry S. Truman reviewing the 442nd/100th troops in Washington, after the war had ended.

"The picture is well-known among the guys in the outfit," said 442nd veteran Jim Yamashita of La Habra. "She [Davenport] has done a real nice job."

Davenport, a grandmother of six, said she has no formal training in art but has painted mostly landscapes as a hobby since she was 40. She has sold some of her paintings; others she has traded.

Davenport said this is the largest painting she has ever done. It was inspired by her close ties with 442nd/100th veterans.

"I've been with them for 50 years," she said. "They're my family."

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