Many Nebraskans decided to join the military in order to help their country fight the Axis forces. Nebraska sent 139,754 men and women to war. They served in every branch of the service-army, navy, coast guard, marines, and army air corps. 3,839 lost their lives.
Among the first Nebraskans to go to war were members of the Nebraska National Guard. This group was named the 134th Infantry Regiment, part of the Thirty-fifth Division, United States Army. Under the command of North Platte native Butler B. Miltonberger, the 134th fought across Europe.
Ben Kuroki, from Hershey, Nebraska, is one of the many Nebraskans who became "war heroes." Kuroki served in both the European and Pacific theaters of the war. He flew on a total of fifty-eight missions as a gunner on bombers. Though awarded many medals, Kuroki's story is more interesting because he is an American of Japanese ancestry. Because Japan was our enemy during the war, many Japanese-American people living in America were treated badly. Kuroki felt it was his duty to prove his loyalty and love for his native country-the United States.
Women serving in the military was a new idea during World War II. Nearly 2,000 Nebraska women joined the service. Helen Sagl of Lincoln was one of the first Nebraska women to enlist in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.