Image of PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto of Ninole, HI on Go For Broke Forever Stamp to be release in 2021.
In an article that appeared in the Hamakua Times February 1, 2021, issue. Pamela Elders, Chair of Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School, known previously as the Laupahoehoe Elementary and High School, took the opportunity to share the story behind one of Laupahoehoe's former graduates, PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto, a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran, whose photo will be featured on the U.S. forever postage stamp as a tribute to Japanese Americans who served in the armed forces during WW II. The soon to be iconic photo of Yamamoto was submitted to the U.S. Post Office by Shari Yamashiro of Honolulu.
As related in Elder's article, Shiroku Yamamoto was born and grew up in Ninole, a sugar plantation village. Shiroku’s mother left the family when Shiroku was still a baby and his father raised him. Shiroku’s father, a sugar planter, died when Shiroku was 16 years old. The Laupahoehoe school principal, Elvis Rhoads and his wife, Mary, brought Shiroku into their home and raised him. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, all schools in Hawaii closed and Shiroku volunteered for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), located in Hawaii.
In January 1943, Shiroku volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was assigned to the Antitank Company, trained in Camp Shelby, MS, and was deployed to Italy with the 442nd. Shortly after the 442nd merger with the 100th Battalion, which had been fighting in Italy for the previous nine months, the Antitank Co. was detached from the 442nd for glider training. In August 1944 the Company was attached to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Airborne Task Force which landed in southern France by gliders as part of Operation Dragoon. While Operation Overlord (Normandy invasion) attacked France from the north, Dragoon attacked from southern France. Antitank Company guarded the exposed right flank of the Seventh Army and it cleared mines, captured Germans, and guarded roads and tunnels.
Shiroku was discharged from the Army on January 3, 1946, and lived with his adopted parents, Rhoads, who by then was principal of Leilehua High School, Honolulu. Shiroku attended Leilehua and obtained a high school diploma in June 1946.
Shiroku used his GI benefits to attend Stout Institute (industrial arts school) in Menominee, WI. He left Stout after one year to learn watch repair in Albany, MO, and jewelry manufacturing, stone setting, and engraving in Newcastle, PA. In 1951, he returned to Hawaii where he married his high school sweetheart, Amy Motoyo. His first career job was as an instrument technician at the U.S. Army Hickam Airfield, Honolulu. He eventually served in the instruments shop at Aloha Airlines from which he retired after 22 years of service.
Yamamoto is proud to have served in the U.S. Army to protect the democratic way of life in the same tradition American patriots served before him. To read Elder's Hamakua Times article click here. The electronic version of Elder's Hamakua Times article about Whitey Yamamoto will appear at a later date on this link https://hamakuatimes.com/.
Links to other coverage on PFC Shiroku “Whitey” Yamamoto and the USPS Go For Broke stamp: