Ted Wada loved America — the land of his birth. But America put his family in a Japanese internment camp in World War II while he served heroically in Uncle Sam’s military.

Ted Wada was photographed by the Union-Tribune in 2014 at French Legion of Honor ceremony. Image via Facebook

Twice wounded in Europe, earning Purple Hearts, Wada also fought in the Korean War and was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2011 — the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. (The same month, the medal went to astronauts Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin and John Glenn.)

In 2014, Wada was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal.

Wada died May 23, surrounded by his family at the Veterans Home of California-Chula Vista, according to a death notice in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

He was 96.

“Ted voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 20, 1941, and sent to Fort Ord for basic training as a combat infantryman,” said the notice published Sunday.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, his family was forced to relocate to Poston Internment Camp I and III in the Arizona desert under an executive signed by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Wada served in the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team while his family was interned in Poston, Ariz. He was in major campaigns in the Northern Apennines, Po Valley, Rhineland, Vosges and Italy, the U-T notice said.

“Ted was with K Company when they rescued the Texas Lost Battalion. He was wounded in France on November 4, 1944, and in Italy on April 5, 1945,” the notice said.

He was discharged November 1945 but re-enlisted in March 1950, serving with the 11th Airborne in Japan and 7th Army Division in Korea until he was honorably discharged March 1953 as a sergeant first class.

After the military, Wada worked and lived in San Diego and later moved to Los Angeles to work at Keiro Retirement Home. He lived in Gardena until 2010, when he moved to the Veterans Home in Chula Vista.

“His family is grateful to the staff and residents at the Veterans Home for taking excellent care of him with respect and friendship,” the notice said.

President Truman salutes the colors of the combined 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, during the presentation of the seventh Presidential Unit Citation. The Regimental Combat Team received the Presidential Unit Citation for outstanding accomplishments in combat in the vicinity of Serravezza, Carrara, and Fosdinovo, Italy, from April 5 to April 14, 1945. U.S. Army photo

At a French Legion of Honor ceremony for seven local servicemen, including Wada, an official said: “France does not forget. And France will never forget these men who stood up to the greatest dangers, submitting themselves to the worst sufferings and consigning some of them to death.”

Born in Redlands on Feb. 17, 1919, Ted Teruo Wada was the son of Tamakichi and Akiyo Wada, natives of Hiroshima, Japan, which was destroyed by the first atomic bomb.

A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, June 20, at the Veterans Home, 700 E. Naples Court, Building F, Chula Vista, with a reception after the service. Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. June 22 at Miramar National Cemetery.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Marumoto; brothers Frank, Henry (Doris) and Robert; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Jack and sisters Fumiko Togino, Bessie Doiguchi and Helen Nakayama.

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