Akira Wallace Fukeda
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, I Company
Akira Wallace Fukeda was born in Sprecklesville, Maui, Territory of Hawaii, on August 16, 1918. He was the son of Daiichi and Takino (Yamanaka) Fukeda. Daiichi arrived in Hawaii from Hiroshima Prefecture on the Nippon Maru on July 29, 1907. Akira’s mother, Takino, arrived on the Anyo Maru on April 14, 1916. Both parents worked on sugar plantations.
When Akira was a child the family moved to Waipahu, a plantation town on Oahu. He attended Waipahu Elementary and Intermediate Schools.
Wally, as he was known, was very active in local sports in his late teens. He played catcher on the Waipahu Plantation baseball team and was also on their football team – the Waipahu Jackrabbits. He was best known for his “slashing right” as a successful featherweight boxer on the Waipahu Athletic Association team. Wally registered for the draft on October 26, 1940, at Local Board No. 9, Waipahu Fire Station. He was 5’6” tall and weighed 135 pounds. His point of contact was his father.
Fukeda was inducted into the Army on March 23, 1943. At the time he was working as a carpenter at Schofield Barracks. He was sent to the “tent city” at Schofield Barracks with the other recruits. They were given a farewell aloha ceremony by the community on March 28 at Iolani Palace. On April 4 the new soldiers left on the S.S. Lurline for San Francisco enroute to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. While there he was on the 442nd boxing team that fielded a lot of entrants at the camp tournament. After basic training, Wally was assigned to 3rd Battalion, I Company.
After months of training, the 442nd left Camp Shelby for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944. They shipped out to the European Theater of Operations in a large convoy of troop ships on May 2 and arrived in Italy the end of the month.
Wally participated in the Rome-Arno Campaign in Italy. The 442nd was then sent to France to join in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.
Sergeant Akira Wallace Fukeda was killed in combat in the Vosges Mountains on October 29, 1944, in the famous rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” the 141st (Texas) Infantry that had advanced too far and found itself surrounded on three sides by the enemy. The action came after nearly non-stop combat for the 442nd; starting with the fighting on October 15 to take nearby Bruyères. He was one of five I Company men who died that day.
For his military service, Sergeant Akira Wallace Fukeda was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Distinguished Unit Badge.
Sergeant Akira Wallace Fukeda was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Epinal, France.
Just over a year later, on December 9, 1945, a Memorial Service for 266 veterans of the 100th/442nd, including Fukeda, was held at McKinley High School auditorium in Honolulu. The service was sponsored by the 100th Battalion and the 442nd veterans, the Women’s War Service Committee, and the Emergency Service Committee. Lt. General Robert C. Richardson gave the main address.
In 1948, the remains of Americans buried overseas began slowly to return to the U.S. if the family so
wished. As a result, on April 21, 1949, Sergeant Akira W. Fukeda arrived home. The USAT Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton brought back 134 men, arriving at Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin. There were hundreds of family and friends present to attend the dockside service. The Secretary of Hawaii, Oren E. Long, officiated, the 264th Army Band played, and military Chaplains participated. The caskets were stored in the Army mausoleum on Oahu pending funeral arrangements.
Sergeant Akira Wallace Fukeda was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Section D, Site 259 in Honolulu on July 25, 1949.
Akira’s brother Sueki Fukeda served as a member of the 100th Battalion, C Company.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.