This section features men who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during the war. The success of the 442nd in combat was based on the fact that the esprit de corps and unit cohesion of the regiment was superb. Individual awards do not always tell the whole story of heroism or courage on the battlefield since not all acts of heroism are recognized. The 442nd succeeded because of the determination, resolve and courage of all of the soldiers that made up the regiment. This section will honor some of the men in the 442nd.
Men of F Company, 2nd Battalion
These photos were taken of F Company personnel at Camp Shelby and in Italy during the war. The photos in Italy are poor in quality because they were taken with a "captured" Italian camera and film. It seems that no one in the company had a proper camera and these are the only known photographs of F Company at the front in Italy.
Company F Cadre, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, February 1943
Top row (left to right): Tech Sgt Masuo Chomori (WIA 10/16/44); SSgt K. Kunugi (injured in training, transferred); unidentified (transferred);Tech 4 Frank Dobashi (1st cook, WIA 11/15/44); Sgt Roy Hiramatsu (supply sergeant, transferred to MIS); Tech Sgt Abraham Ohama (KIA 10/20/44); Tech Sgt Zentaro G. Akiyama (KIA 7/3/44); 1st Sgt Jack Wakamatsu (WIA 10/17 & 10/20/44).
Bottom row: Capt John A Jett (C.O. transferred, became G Co C.O.); Sgt P Oda (transferred to MIS); SSgt Joe Yamamoto (mess sergeant); SSgt Kazuo Masuda (KIA 8/27/44); Sgt Matume Mikami (WIA 7/6/44); Tech 4 Saburo Sugawara (1st cook); Tech 5 Noboru Kawamura (2nd cook); Sgt Dick Masuda (KIA 6/26/44).
1st Sgt Jack Wakamatsu, 2d Lt Harold Brown, Italy July 20, 1944
1st Sgt Jack Wakamatsu, Venice, California. His family was interned in Manzanar Relocation Center, California. Before the war the Wakamatsu family owned a 10 acre truck farm in Venice. 1st Sgt. Wakamatsu was drafted on January 31, 1941 and was sent for training to the 53rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Ord, California. He was promoted to sergeant on June 10, 1941 while assigned to Company F, 53rd. On December 7, 1941 he deployed with his regiment to the Presidio of San Francisco and then Hamilton Field where his unit help set up defenses for the air field. On Christmas Eve 1941 his unit arrived in Reno, Nevada where they were assigned to secure the railroad in the vicinity of Reno and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sgt. Wakamatsu eventually was ordered to Camp Shelby, Mississippi where he became the cadre First Sergeant of Company F, 442nd RCT.
GENERAL ORDERS NUMBER 21 1 April 1945 AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL
JACK K. WAKAMATSU, First Sergeant, Inf., Company "F", 442d Regimental Combat Team, for heroic achievement on 26 June 1944 in Italy. During his company's movement to better defensive positions, Sergeant Wakamatsu directed by radio the withdrawal of three platoons and several litter cases. After repeated efforts to contact several missing elements had failed, Sergeant Wakamatsu, exposing himself to enemy observation on a high knoll which afforded good radio transmission, finally succeeded in contacting them. He then directed their rearward movement, despite concentrated sniper fire, until they safely reached the company lines. Entered service from Venice, California.
GENERAL ORDER NO. 23, Hq 6th Army Group, 4 Apr 45 AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL
JACK K. WAKAMATSU, First Sergeant, Inf., Company "F", 442d Regimental Combat Team, for heroic achievement on 20 October 1944 in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France. Arriving upon the scene of a sudden enemy machine gun attack upon a ration carrying party, Sergeant Wakamatsu ordered his four companions to cover him while he crawled to a tree in the vicinity. From this position he engaged the enemy machine gun with rifle grenades. Though wounded in the hand by counterfire he continued to launch grenades at the machine gun until it was abandoned. He then advanced upon the position and from that point continued to harass the retreating enemy until the wounded members of the ration carrying party were evacuated.
Tech Sgt Abraham J. Ohama, Camp Shelby 1943
Tech Sgt Abraham (Abe) Ohama, Sanger, California. His family was interned in Poston Relocation Center, Arizona. During his last furlough visit to his family at Poston (he was attending his brother's wedding as best man) before he was shipped overseas, Abe told the gathering, "All of us can't stay in the camps until the end of the war. Some of us have to go to the front. Our record on the battlefield will determine when you will return and how you will be treated. I don't know if I'll make it back." Abe was killed in action on October 20, 1944 when he went to the aid of one of his wounded men. Abe was leader of the 2nd Platoon.
AWARD, POSTHUMOUS, OF THE SILVER STAR (Sec II, GO No. 10, Hq 6th Army Gp, 22 Feb 45)
ABRAHAM G. Ohama, Technical Sergeant, Inf, Company F, 442d Regimental Combat Team, for gallantry in action on 20 October 1944 in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France. While making a forward reconnaissance to determine the enemy's disposition, Sergeant Ohama and his men encountered machine gun fire in the vicinity of emplacements occupied by one of the forward companies. Placing his men under cover he crawled to within 20 yards from the enemy and threw two hand grenades which neutralized the machine gun nest. When another machine gun opened fire upon him, he momentarily silenced it with his sub-machine gun and then completely put it out of action with hand grenades. Subsequently, when a comrade was wounded and left exposed to further injury, he disregarded enemy sniper fire to go to his aid, and as he reached the fallen man's side was mortally wounded. Next of kin: Mrs. Hana Ohama, Mother, 222-9-G Poston, Arizona.
Tech Sgt Masuo Chomori, Camp Shelby 1943
2nd Lt Masuo (Mas) Chomori, Glendale, California. His family was interned in Manzanar Relocation Center. Lt. Chomori was drafted on January 29, 1941 and was inducted into the Army at Fort McArthur along with 1st Sgt. Jack Wakamatsu. Lt. Chomori was sent to Fort Ord where he was assigned to F Company, 53rd Infantry. Lt. Chomori later was ordered to Camp Shelby where he formed the cadre of F Company, 442nd RCT. Lt. Chomori (then a Tech. Sgt.) became the platoon sergeant for the 2nd platoon. On the first day of combat for F Company on June 26, 1944 on the Suvereto Road south of Livorno, Italy, TSgt. Chomori's 2nd platoon in the lead position made contact with approximately one company of German infantry forces, one 88 mm self-propelled artillery gun and three Panzer IV tanks. Almost immediately the 2nd platoon commander was wounded and TSgt. Chomori assumed command of the platoon. On July 6, 1944 in the battle of Hill 140, the 2nd platoon replacement officer became a combat fatigue casualty and TSgt. Chomori once again assumed command of the platoon. In the first 4 weeks in combat, of the 47 men assigned to the 2nd platoon there were 24 casualties: 5 men KIA, 15 WIA, 2 MIA and 2 combat fatigue cases. TSgt. Chomori received a combat commission along with TSgt. Takeji Kinoshita, Co I, on August 21, 1944 and appointed a 2nd Lieutenant. 2nd Lt. Chomori assumed command of the 1st platoon in F Company. On October 15, 1944, F Company led the attack against the French town of Bruyeres. The 1st and 2nd platoons spear headed the attack and encountered fierce German resistance. On October 16th the attack resumed against heavy resistance which included machine gun nests and artillery fire. This is where Lt. Chomori was wounded by shrapnel from a "tree burst" at 11:45am. 2nd Lt. Chomori was seriously wounded and eventually was flown to Miami, Florida and then transferred to Bushnell General Hospital in Utah where he was eventually discharged from the Army almost a year after he was wounded.
SSgt Kazuo Masuda, Santa Ana, California. On December 7, 1941, Pvt. Kazuo Masuda was stationed at Ford Ord, California. On February 6, 1942, he sent this letter to authorities in Washington D.C.:
On December 7, 1941, my father, Gensuke Masuda, Rt. 4, Box 533, Santa Ana, was imprisoned in the Orange County jail by the county sheriff. The reason for his arrest is unknown to him, his family and friends. About 10 days later, after being questioned by F.B.I. agents, he was transferred to Fort Missoula, Montana, where he is now interned. I cannot believe that my father has done any act of disloyalty towards the United States. He has been a resident of this country for over 40 years...He has been a farmer for over 35 years... In all the 23 years I have lived with my father, he has never uttered a single word against the United States. He has always considered this nation his country, and I believe he has done his part in making it the great nation that we are. He did not, as so many others have done, send any of his children to Japan for any part of their education. He wanted his children to be Americans.... I believe sincerely that his arrest and his subsequent imprisonment and internment was based on mistaken facts... Kazuo Masuda, Pvt. Hq & Hq Sec, CASC Unit #1962 Fort Ord, California.
Tec 5 Kazuo Masuda, Camp Shelby 1943
Gensuke Masuda was released from Federal custody and the Masuda family was interned in Jerome Relocation Center, Arkansas. The Masuda family was relocated to the Gila River Relocation Center, Arizona where they were interned from June 1944 until they were released on July 19, 1945. On August 27, 1944 while leading a patrol across the Arno River in Italy, SSgt. Kazuo Masuda was killed when he encountered a German machine gun nest. SSgt. Masuda fired 18 rounds from his Thompson submachine gun before he was cut down by the German machine gun bullets. SSgt. Masuda was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
On furlough, Kazuo Masuda visiting his parents and family, Jerome Relocation Center
By direction of the President of the United States, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded posthumously to Staff Sergt. Kazuo Masuda, Infantry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 6 July, 1944, near Molino a Ventoabbato, and from 27 to 28 August 1944, on the Arno river near Florence, Italy. On 6 July, 1944, while his advanced observation post was the target of heavy mortar and artillery barrages, Staff Sergeant Masuda crawled 200 yards to the mortar section, secured a mortar tube and ammunition, and returned to the observation post. Using his helmet as a base plate, Staff Sergeant Masuda single-handedly directed effective fire upon the enemy for 12 hours, inflicting heavy casualties and repulsing two major enemy counter-attacks. On 27 August, 1944, Staff Sergeant Masuda voluntarily led two men on a night patrol across the Arno river and through the heavily-mined and booby-trapped north bank. Hearing movements to his right he ordered his men to cover him while he crawled forward and discovered that a strong enemy force had surrounded them. Realizing that he was trapped, he ordered his men to withdrawal while he boldly engaged two enemy automatic weapons. At the sacrifice of his life, he enabled his comrades to escape with valuable information which materially aided the successful crossing of the Arno river. The gallant heroism and selfless devotion to duty of Staff Sergeant Masuda exemplify the finest tradition of the Infantry of the Army of the United States. Presentation is made to his next of kin, his sister, Mary Masuda.
When Mary Masuda returned to Orange County in 1945, she was threatened by five men who did not want her and the Masuda family to return to Orange County from the Gila River Relocation Center. This was widely reported in newspapers:
WASHINGTON--The War Relocation Authority on May 14 took steps to end threats against an American girl of Japanese ancestry who has four brothers with honorable army service records. The WRA announced it is prepared to turn over to law enforcement officials the names of five men who have threatened Mary Masuda of Talbert, Orange County, California, with bodily harm unless she moves out of the county in which she resides with the Caucasian Family named Trudeau.
On December 10, 1945 General Joseph W. (Vinegar Joe) Stilwell presented Mary Masuda the Distinguished Service Cross in honor of her brother, SSgt. Kazuo Masuda, at a ceremony at the humble Masuda farm home in Talbert, Orange County (near Santa Ana). Later at a rally in honor of SSgt. Masuda held at the Santa Ana Municipal Bowl organized by the Council for Civic Unity and Santa Ana civic organizations, General Stillwell said:
"The Nisei bought an awful big hunk of America with their blood. Those Nisei boys have a place in the American heart, now and forever. We cannot allow a single injustice to be done to the Nisei without defeating the purpose for which we fought... Who, after all, is the real American? The real American is the man who calls it a fair exchange to lay down his life in order that American ideals may go on living. And judging by such a test, Sergeant Masuda was a better American than any of us here today."
An Army Captain named Ronald Reagan made these remarks at the rally:
"Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all of one color. America stands unique in the world, the only country not founded on race, but on a way--an ideal. Not in spite of, but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way. Mr. and Mrs. Masuda, just as one member of the family of Americans speaking to another member, I want to say for what your son Kazuo did, thanks!"
Gen. Joseph Stillwell, Mary Masuda, Masao Masuda, Mr. & Mrs. Gensuke Masuda
When the body of Kazuo Masuda was brought home to America in 1948, the Masuda family attempted to have his remains buried at the Westminster Memorial Park cemetery in Orange County, California. The cemetery refused to allow Sgt. Masuda's remains to be buried in the Memorial Park because "restrictive covenants" barred persons who were not of Caucasian ancestry. After considerable adverse publicity and pressure from the government, organizations and individuals, SSgt. Kazuo Masuda was allowed to be buried in his home county.
Tech Sgt Jimmy Shimizu, Wapato, Washington. Jimmy Shimizu entered military service on May 5, 1941. TSgt. Jimmy Shimizu's family was interned at Minidoka Relocation Center, Idaho. Although not in the F Company cadre photo, Jimmy Shimizu was part of a group of Japanese American soldiers stationed at Camp Crowder, Missouri, and ordered to Camp Shelby on February 3, 1943 to form the cadre of 442nd RCT. When the 442nd was sent to France, TSgt. Shimizu was platoon sergeant of the 3rd platoon, F Company. On October 24, 1944 TSgt. Shimizu was wounded by an enemy sniper and he died of his wounds on October 29th.
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 52 12 May 1945
AWARD, POSTHUMOUS, OF SILVER STAR JIMMY SHIMIZU, Technical Sergeant, Infantry, United States Army. For gallantry in action, on 20 October 1944, near Bruyeres, France. When his platoon was stopped by heavy machine gun fire from concealed emplacements, Technical Sergeant SHIMIZU deliberately exposed himself to enable his men to locate and destroy one of the enemy positions. The advance again was halted by machine gun fire, and Technical Sergeant SHIMIZU made his way to a position from which he located two enemy machine guns. Killing the gunners in one of these positions, he crawled into the nest and neutralized the second emplacement with carbine fire. Later, approaching a strong-point built around a rock quarry, Technical Sergeant SHIMIZU crawled forward through point blank enemy fire, threw two grenades into the position and led his men in an assault to destroy the stronghold. Technical Sergeant SHIMIZU's actions resulted in a complete rout of the enemy in his sector, and his aggressiveness and courage are in accord with the finest traditions of the Army of the United States. Entered military service from Sunnyside, Washington. Next of kin: Aijiro Shimizu (Father, 37-4-B, Hunt, Idaho)
Tech Sgt Zentaro George Akiyama, Broderick, California. TSgt. Akiyama's family were truck farmers outside of Sacramento, California. TSgt. Akiyama was in the 53rd Infantry Regiment at Fort Ord along with 1st Sgt. Wakamatsu and TSgt. Chomori. TSgt. Akiyama would later be part of the cadre of F Company after being transferred to Camp Shelby from Camp Crowder, Missouri. TSgt. Akiyama's parents, five brothers and two sisters were interned at the Tule Lake Segregation Center. TSgt. Akiyama was the platoon sergeant of 3rd Platoon, F Company. On the night of July 3, 1944, TSgt. Akiyama was returning to his platoon after scouting enemy positions forward of the line. Before reaching the safety of his own lines, the 3rd Platoon's 2nd Lieutenant opened fire on TSgt. Akiyama and killed him. The 2nd Lieutenant had been drinking and SSgt. Kazuo Masuda wanted to execute the Lieutenant on the spot. 1st Sgt. Wakamatsu denied the request and no action was taken against the 2nd Lieutenant. Four days later on July 7th, the 2nd Lieutenant was wounded in action. When he returned to F Company after recovering from his wounds, he was reassigned to a different company on August 20, 1944.
Pfc Kiyoshi Muranaga, Camp Shelby
Pfc Kiyoshi K. Muranaga, Gardena, California. Pfc. Muranaga's family was interned in the Granada (Amache) Relocation Center, Colorado. Kiyoshi Muranaga volunteered for the 442nd from this internment camp in 1943. Pfc. Muranaga became a mortar gunner in the 4th Platoon of F Company. On June 26, 1944, the first day of combat for the 442nd RCT on a road near Suvereto, Italy, Pfc. Muranaga was killed in action within minutes of the opening shots of the battle. Pfc. Muranaga's courageous action prevented many casualties in F Company and caused the Germans to withdrawal an 88mm self-propelled gun that was firing directly on the company at close range. Pfc. Muranaga was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY A.P.O. #464, U.S. ARMY
Sep 23, 1944
Under the provisions of Army Regulations 600-45, as amended, a Distinguished-Service Cross is awarded, posthumously, to Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga, 37356488, Infantry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action.
"KIYOSHI K. MURANAGA, (37356488), Private First Class, Infantry, United States Army. For extraordinary heroism in action, on 26 June 1944, near Suvereto, Italy. Private First Class MURANAGA'S company encountered a strong enemy force in commanding positions and with superior fire power. An enemy 88mm self-propelled gun opened direct fire on the company, causing the men to disperse and seek cover. The mortar squad in which Private First Class MURANAGA served as gunner was ordered to action, but the terrain made it impossible to set up the weapon in defilade. The squad leader realizing the vulnerability of the mortar position, moved his men away from the gun to positions of comparative safety. Because of the heavy casualties being inflicted on his company, Private First Class MURANAGA elected to attempt to neutralize the 88mm weapon alone. Voluntarily remaining at his gun position, Private First Class MURANAGA manned the mortar himself and opened fire on the enemy gun at a range of approximately four hundred yards. With his third round he was able to correct his fire so that the shell landed directly in front of the enemy gun. Meanwhile, the German crew immediately aware of the source of the mortar fire, had turned the 88mm weapon directly on Private First Class MURANAGA'S position. Before Private First Class MURANAGA could fire a fourth round, an 88mm shell scored a direct hit on his position, killing him instantly. Because of the accuracy of Private First Class MURANAGA'S previous fire, the Germans decided not to risk further exposure and immediately abandoned their position. Private First Class MURANAGA'S courageous performance typifies the finest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States. Next of kin: Mrs. Kikuyo Muranaga (Mother), 10-H-2-F, Amache, Colorado."
MARK W. CLARK Lieutenant General, U.S. Army Commanding.
2nd Platoon, F Company, July 21, 1944, Italy
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