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Five Nisei World War II Veterans Inducted into the French Légion d’ Honneur

03 Oct 2020 4:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Jeff Morita (Hawaii)

The month of September 2020 brought forth more wonderful news — the Republic of France inducted five 442nd Regimental Combat Team Veterans into the prestigious Chevalier dans L'Order National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor).  The French Chevalier is the highest French order bestowed for military and civilian merit and established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.  All five 442nd Regimental Combat Team Veterans were instrumental in the liberation of France in World War II from years of occupation and oppression.

Hajime Miyamoto



Hajime Miyamoto. Photos: Courtesy of Susan (Miyamoto) Yoshitomi.

Hajime Miyamoto was born on October 11, 1918 in Kawainui, Pepeekeo, (then) Territory of Hawaii to Kichiuemon and Koei Miyamoto.  He was the oldest boy and seconnd of eight siblings.  In 1937, he graduated from Hilo High School where he was involved in vocational agriculture, and the Future Farmers of America. On March 27, 1943, Miyamoto enlisted in the U.S. Army and received basic infantry training and as a medical aidman.  He was one of three medical aidmen initially assigned to G "George" Company, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Subsequently assigned to the Medical Detachment, Headquarters, 442nd RCT, Miyamoto attained the rank of Technician Fifth Class (Tec/5).  He served courageously and with valor in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Maritime Alps; and Po Valley Campaigns.  He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment) in the Vosges Mountains.  On December 13, 1945 Tec/5 Miyamoto was honorably discharged from U.S. Army at the Army Separation Center, Oahu. 

For his honorable service, Tec/5 Miyamoto was a recipient of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Silver Star Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation); Combat Medical Badge; and Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.  Miyamoto returned to his roots in Hilo and was first employed as a field supervisor for Flowers of Hawaii, Ltd and then subsequently worked for the Hawaii Sugar Plantation Association for 30 years retiring as an Experimentalist on October 31, 1984.  Spouse Mitsue Miyamoto (NEE:  Masuchika) preceded him in death.  Mr. Miyamoto passed away on June 12, 2019 at the age of 100.  He is survived by a daughter Susan Eiko Yoshitomi (Alvin) of Honolulu.  Due to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, a presentation ceremony in Hawaii s tentatively on-hold until such time it is safe for group gatherings.

Silver Star Citation:  The President of the United States of American, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Private First Class Hajime Miyamoto (ASN:  30106254), United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Medical Aidman with the 442d Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 36th Infantry Division, on October 20, 1944 in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France. Observing two of his comrades severely wounded and exposed to enemy fire, Private First Class Miyamoto, on his own initiative, left his covered position and dashed through a hail of enemy fire to the aid of these men.  Under fire, he calmly administered first aid.  When intense enemy fire was directed against his position, Private First Class Miyamoto, with complete disregard for his own safety, threw himself over one of the wounded men, shielding him with his own body.  Realizing the wounded man was in need of immediate blood transfusion, Private First Class Miyamoto, displaying outstanding bravery, carried him through intense crossfire to the aid station." (Headquarters, 7th Army General Orders No. 17; January 24, 1945).

Charles Masuo Murakami



Charles Masuo Murakami.  Photos:  Courtesy of the Murakami Family.

Charles Masuo Murakami was born on March 4, 1922 in Sherwood, Oregon to Shuichi and Yae Murakami, and the 5th of seven siblings.  At the age of 14 a very young Murakami worked on the railroads using a sledgehammer to drive in railroad spikes.  At age 15, he worked at the local salmon cannery, recalled "most kids did at that time," cleaned and packed the salmon as the catch came in.  The salmon runs lasted roughly 16 to 18 days; he worked every day 10 to 12-hours because there was no refrigeration and earned 10 cents per hour.  He later worked the nightshift at the local sawmill all the while helping the family with monetary income.  Mr. Murakami attended Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, Oregon and took a keen interest in the draftsman trade; he graduated in 1940.  Following the December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on February 19, 1942, then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 and authorized the U.S. Secretary of War to set aside certain areas of the U.S. mainland as military zones.  This cleared the way for the internment of non-U.S. citizens (parents of) and U.S. citizens of American of Japanese Ancestry into U.S. ‘relocation' camps.  Under the War Relocation Authority, Mr. Murakami and his family were confined at Minidoka Concentration Camp in Hunt, Idaho, one of ten relocation camps across the U.S. mainland. 

On May 1, 1943, Mr. Murakami was inducted into the U.S. Army in Salt Lake, Utah and received basic combat training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  He was trained as an assault infantry heavy machine gun crew member, and ultimately became a machine-gun Section Leader.  Assigned to H "How" Company (Heavy Weapons), 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG).  SSG Murakami served honorably and gallantly in the Rome-Arno Northern Apennines (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime-Alps  and Po Valley Offensive Campaigns.  On October 17, 1944 during a combat assault for Bruyeres, SSG Murakami was wound in the neck by artillery shrapnel and recalled, “a half inch more and it would’ve cut my neck off.” He received the coveted Purple Heart Medal.  On December 11, 1945 SSG Murakami was honorably discharge at Separation Center, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.  For his honorable service, SSG Murakami was the recipient of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation); Combat Medical Badge; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II. 

Following his service in the U.S. Army, Mr. Murakami worked as a draftsman at small companies prior to working at Inland and Ricoh.  He learned the draftsman trade while in his vocational high school and advanced from Structural Steel Draftsman to Chief Structural Draftsman through experience and seniority.  Mr. Murakami fully retired in 1987.  After 65 years of marriage, on July 31, 2011, wife Grace preceded Mr. Murakami in death; they have no children.  Mr. Murakami resides in Florida and a member of The American Legion.  A very proud nephew-Kerry Murakami and a niece-Melissa Murakami-Luna reside in Chicago, Illinois.  The Consul General of France in Miami, Florida is tentatively scheduled to confer Mr. Muraoka the French Chevalier (Knight) on Columbus Day, Monday, October 12, 2020, at The Carriage House Gracious Retirement Living in Oxford, Florida.

Seichi Joseph Oshiro 

 

 

Seichi Joseph Oshiro. Photos: Courtesy of the Oshiro Family. 

Seichi Joseph Oshiro was born April 18, 1923, in Honolulu, (then) Territory of Hawaii to Kamado and Isami Oshiro. Mr. Oshiro is the 2nd of eight siblings and attended Maui High School until the 10th grade.  He later attended the Department of Public Instruction, and received a High School Certificate.  

On March 23, 1943 he enlisted into the U.S. Army in Maui County, Maui, and received training as an infantry assault rifleman.  Then Private Oshiro was assigned to L "Love" Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and eventually attained the rank of Sergeant.  SGT Oshiro served courageously and valiantly in the Rome-Arno, North Apennines, (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Maritime Alps Campaigns.  He personally contributed to the liberation of the Eastern-France to include the towns of Bruyeres, Belmont-Biffontaine, and in the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas' battalion (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment) in the Vosges Mountains.  He was wounded twice, once on July 20, 1944, in the vicinity of Nuova and Colle Alvetti, Italy, and a second time on November 1, 1944, in the Vosges Mountains of France. 

On December 13, 1945, SGT Oshiro was honorably discharged from active U.S. Army duty at Army Separation Center, Oahu.  For his honorable service, SGT Oshiro received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award) Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation); Sharpshooter Badge M1 Rifle; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.  

In Honolulu, Mr. Oshiro started his U.S. Federal Civil Service career as a United States Postal System Carrier.  He eventually became a foreman of building maintenance - in charge of post office machinery - at the USPS Post Office, Honolulu International Airport and after 30 years of federal civil service he retired on December 29, 1980.  On August 26, 1950, Joseph Seichi Oshiro married the former Nancy T. Yonashiro and both currently live in Honolulu, Hawaii.  They have two children, four grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Due to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, a conferment ceremony in Hawaii is tentatively on-hold until such time it is safe for group gatherings.

Takashi Shirakata



Takashi Shirakata. Photos: Courtesy of Shirakata Family.

Takashi Shirakata was born on April 12, 1921 in Honolulu, (then) Territory of Hawaii to Tamiichi and Kiku Shirakata and the 3rd of six siblings.  In June 1929, Shirakata graduated from McKinley High School and employed by the Bank of Hawaii as a bookkeeping machine operator.  

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mr. Shirakata enlisted and inducted into the U.S. Army on March 25, 1943 at Schofield Barracks, Oahu.  Then Private Takashi was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team as an assault rifleman.  He also received additional training as a radio operator assigned to the communications platoon.  PVT Shirakata was subsequently transferred to the 206th Army Ground Forces Band (AGFB), 442nd RCT and attained the rank of Technician 5th Class (Tec/5). Tec/5 Shirakata assisted with military band music to provide and maintain esprit de corps and preserve military tradition of ceremonies for U.S. and foreign guests and dignitaries.  The 206th AGFB service members were fully armed, conducted vital guard duties to ensure the security of the RCT's Headquarters, and held in reserve in the event additional combat power was necessary in the RCT's area of operation.  Security in a war footing was paramount in order for the RCT's headquarters element to provide effective command and control over its' assigned three infantry battalions, field artillery battalion, combat engineers, medical and logistical staff.  Shirakata assisted with military band music to provide and maintain esprit de corps and preserve military tradition of ceremonies for U.S. and foreign guests and dignitaries in additional to providing security to the RCT's headquarters. 

Tec/5 Shirakata served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Maritime Alps; and Po Valley Campaigns.  He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges  Mountains.  On December 19, 1945 Shirakata was honorably separated from the U.S. Army at the Army Separation Center, Oahu, ToH.  For his honorable service, Tec/5 Shirakata received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation); Expert Marksmanship M1 and Pistol; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.  

Mr. Shirakata returned to the Bank of Hawaii until the late 1950's, then employed by City Bank until his final retirement on April 30, 1986 as Vice Present of Operations.  Mr. Shirakata served as a proud officer, and member of the 442nd RCT Veteran's Club, and Chapter President for the 232nd Combat Engineer Company, and 206th Army Ground Forces Band, 442d RCT.  Mr. Shirakata is married to the former Florence Sadae Ogawa.  They have four children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.  Mr. and Mrs. Shirakata currently live in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Due to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, a conferment ceremony in Hawaii is tentatively on-hold until such time it is safe for group gatherings.

Minoru Tamashiro


Minoru Tamashiro. Photo: Courtesy Jeff and Airi Morita.

Minoru Tamashiro was born on September 16, 1924 in Hilo, (then) Territory of Hawaii to Jitsuyei and Oto Tamashiro, and the 2nd of three all brother siblings. Tamashiro graduated from McKinley High School.  On March 24, 1943 he enlisted into the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, and received training in infantry tactics, jeep driving and as an anti-tank crewman.  Private (PVT) Tamashiro was assigned to Headquarters Company, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), and eventually attained the rank of Private First Class (PFC).  PFC Tamashiro served courageously and gallantly in the Rome-Arno; Northern Apennines; (France) Rhineland-Vosges and Maritime Alps; and Po Valley Campaigns.  He personally contributed to the liberation of Northeastern France to include the villages of Bruyères, Belmont-Biffontaine, and the epic rescue of the lost ‘Texas’ battalion in the Vosges  Mountains.  On April 13, 1945 PFC Tamashiro was wound by shrapnel to the right arm along the Lingurian Coast, Italy; he received the coveted Purple Heart Medal.  On December 30, 1945 Tamashiro was honorably separated from the U.S. Army at the Army Separation Center, Oahu, ToH.  PFC Tamashiro received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal; Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Campaign Stars; World War II Victory Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge (Presidential Unit Citation) with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd award); Combat Infantryman Badge; Sharpshooter Badge M1 Rifle and Expert Badge; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II.  

Mr. Tamashiro attended the University of Hawaii and received a Baccalaureate (1952) and Master of Science (1954) degrees in Entomology.  In 1959, he went on to receive his Doctorate in Entomology from University of California, Berkeley.  The University of Hawaii at Manoa then hired Mr. Tamashiro as an Assistant Professor of Entomology; and subsequently promoted to an Associate Professor, and lastly Professor.  He retired in 1989 and awarded Emeritus Professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, UH-Manoa.  Mr. Tamashiro's academic career encompassed mostly in teaching and research.  He is most proud of his students and their own achievements.  Many have gone on to become leaders and teachers in their own fields.  Mr. Tamashiro's main area of research was Subterranean Termites, which caused millions of dollars of damage in Hawaii and throughout the world every year.  Involved in research and innovative techniques, Mr. Tamashiro significantly contributed to greatly reducing this devastating insect problem.  More importantly techniques employed enabled to greatly reduce the use of highly toxic chemicals, which were sprayed in the environment in order to control this insect. 

Mr. Tamashiro is married to the former Elaine Masako (NEE:  Kushiyama) and both currently live in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Due to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, a conferment ceremony in Hawaii is tentatively on-hold until such time it is safe for group gatherings.


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