Honolulu, Hawaii. Four Nisei veterans Yoshiyuki Joel Fujita, Katsuto Richard Nomura, and Harold Joji Watase recently received the prestigious Chevalier (Knight) medal for participating in the liberation of France. Guillaume Maman, French Honorary Consul in Hawaii, presented the awards at separate ceremonies.
Yoshiyuki Joel Fujita
On November 30, 2019 in a small private ceremony, Mr. Yoshiyuki Joel Fujita, Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team was conferred the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal by Mr. Guillaume Maman, French Honorary Consul in Hawaii. Then Technician 5th Class Fujita, a tactical map specialist was responsible for creating and maintaining the critical tactical maps for the Regimental Headquarters. He was also a reconnaissance scout and the eyes and ears of the Regiment. Returning from one of many reconnaissance mission in the Vosges Mountains, he possessed first-hand and full knowledge of the dire situation. During the mission debriefing with 442nd headquarters officers, Fujita reported details of German defenses and warned of the risks of attacking the German fortress in the Vosges forests. Conferment ceremony attendees also included Mrs. Theresa Maman and Mrs. Yoko Morita.
Fujita served in four Allied Offensive Campaigns, the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps; and Po Valley (Gothic-line breakthrough). For his honorable service, T/5 Fujita received the Bronze Star Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award); Army Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge; Combat Infantryman Badge; Expert Badge with Rifle Bar; and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.
L-R: Jeff Morita, Cedric Fujita (son), (seated) Mr. Yoshiyuki Joel Fujita, Kylee Fujita (granddaughter), Mr. Guillaume Maman, Photo: Courtesy of Ann Kabasawa.
Yoshiyuki Joel Fujita. Photo: Courtesy of the Fujita Family.
On December 9, 2019, in a very private ceremony, French Honorary Consul Guillaume Maman presented the French Legion of Honor to Dr. James Nakamura, the son of the late Dr. Takashi Nakamura. As a Combat Medic, then Technical Sergeant (T/Sgt) Takashi Nakamura was duty-bound with the heavy responsibility of administering life-saving medical aid, and comfort to many wounded and dying fellow 442nd brothers-in-arms. As a senior enlisted of a medical detachment assigned to an infantry regiment in the European Theater of Operations, T/Sgt Nakamura supervised and directed the work of 150 men and performed the necessary administrative work for the detachment. He prepared and typed correspondence, made entries in records, and assigned men to various duties to ensure the health and welfare, care of various injuries, and battle casualties for the entire Regiment. As a medical supply sergeant, T/Sgt Nakamura supervised the requisitioning, storing, and issue of medical supplies for the Regiment and quartermaster supplies for men within the medical detachment. He kept stock records of all supplies on hand and issued, took periodic inventories of stock on hand, and ensured medical supplies reached front line companies at all times. T/Sgt Nakamura served in the Rome-Arno, Northern Apennines, [France] Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps and Po Valley Allied Offensive Campaigns. For his honorable service, Mr. Nakamura was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four (4) Bronze Campaign/Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge (now known as the Presidential Unit Citation), Combat Medical Badge, and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. Dr. Takashi Nakamura served as the President of the 442nd Veterans Club from January thru December 1966 and passed away Spring 2019.
Dr. Takashi Nakamura. Photo: Courtesy of 442nd Veterans Club.
Katsuto Richard Nomura
On December 7, 2019 in front of a large multi-generation group attending the 2019 442nd Regimental Combat Team Christmas Party, Mr. Katsuto Richard Nomura, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team was conferred the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal by Mr. Guillaume Maman, French Honorary Consul in Hawaii.
Nomura served in five Allied Offensive Campaigns, the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; Southern France Invasion (Operation Dragoon); (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps; and Po Valley (Gothic-line breakthrough). Nomura was wounded in the right shoulder by enemy shrapnel during the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains in Northeastern France. Due to the 442nd’s combat depleted manpower, Nomura was medically treated and returned to his unit. For his honorable service PFC Nomura received the Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Silver Campaign/Battle Star (signifies five campaigns); World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge; Combat Infantryman Badge; World War II Airborne Glider Badge; one Bronze Arrowhead (signifies glider assault); Expert Badge 57mm Anti-Tank, Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, and the Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.
L-R: Mrs. Theresa Maman, Jeff Morita, Mr. Guillaume Maman, (seated) Mr. Katsuto Richard Nomura, Photo: Courtesy of Ann Kabasawa.
Private First Class Katsuto Richard Nomura with bazooka. Photo: Courtesy Nomura Family.
Harold Joji Watase
On January 11, 2020 in an intimate and historic Chevalier conferment ceremony at the 442nd Legacy Center and Veterans Club, four generations of the Watase Family witnessed Mr. Harold Joji Watase (95 years old), I “Item” Company, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team bestowed the French Chevalier (Knight) Medal by Mr. Guillaume Maman, French Honorary Consul in Hawaii. Then Sergeant Watase was an infantry light mortar crewman, and operated the M2 mortar a 60 millimeter smoothbore, muzzle-loading, high angle of fire weapon used to support infantry with indirect fire support. Sergeant Watase was wounded in the neck by enemy shrapnel during the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges Mountains of Northeastern France.
[EdNote. The nomination packet for the highest decoration of France was completed by JAVA member Jeff Morita, a retired US Army and Civil Service volunteer who assists veterans obtain medals and records. Jeff has assisted with 25 other French Chevalier (Knight) conferments to an American soldier who participated in the Liberation of France during WWII. Jeff continues his public service in search of current surviving military veterans who served open French soil during WWII, and prior to May 8, 1945. Jeff offers his expertise to all interested firstname.lastname@example.org.]
L-R: Jeff Morita, Karl Okemura, Harold Joji Watase, Claire Mitani, Guillaume Maman. Photo: Airi Morita.
Mr. Harold Joji Watase. Photo:Courtesy Watase Family.