Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, I Company
Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi was born on May 15, 1924, in Wahiawa, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. He was one of twelve children of Kanichi and Toku (Ogawa) Yamauchi: sons Harry M.; Howard Gunichi; Jerry Tadao; Tatsumi; Taketoshi; Tsugito; Junichi Bob; Chiyoaki Jerry; Manabu; and Floyd Kozo; and two daughters, Hatsuko Tsuge and Momoya Mildred. His father, Kanichi, emigrated to Hawaii from Agemura in Hiroshima Prefecture on the Kusuho Maru, arriving on November 4, 1906. He worked for the Wahiawa Water Company as a carpenter. Toku emigrated in 1907, and in 1930, her occupation was laundress. In 1940, the family lived on Walker Avenue.
Chiyoaki was educated at Leilehua Intermediate School in Wahiawa and graduated from Leilehua High School in 1942. He quickly registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, at Local Board No. 10 in Wahiawa. He was living with his family at 212 Walker Avenue and his point of contact was Henry Mondo of Olive Avenue. He was employed by Hawaiian Construction Company and worked at Schofield Barracks, Area 3, as a carpenter. Chiyoaki was 5’5” tall and weighed 148 pounds.
On March 23, 1943, Chiyoaki enlisted in the Army at Wahiawa. His civilian occupation was given as “Semiskilled construction occupations.” He was sent to Boom Town, 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.
After basic training, Chiyoaki was assigned to 1st Battalion, B Company. Just prior to going overseas, however, he was reassigned to 3rd Battalion, I Company. This was necessitated by the three waves of officers and enlisted men that were taken from the 1st Battalion at Camp Shelby beginning in January 1944, to send to Italy as replacements to the depleted ranks of the 100th Infantry Battalion. The 1st Battalion was left without enough men to form a battalion, so many of its remaining men were transferred to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions. This was especially difficult on the soldiers after forming close bonds over the previous long months of training.
The 442nd left Camp Shelby for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944. They shipped out to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in a large convoy of troop ships on May 2, and arrived at Naples, Italy, on May 28.
Chiyoaki fought in the Rome-Arno Campaign in Italy. The 442nd entered combat near Suvereto on June 26, 1944. He then went with the 442nd as they were sent to Marseilles, France, on September 27, to join in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.
Third Battalion was moved from the staging area in Septèmes, just outside Marseilles, on October 10, by rail up the Rhone Valley north to the Vosges Mountains. The train was an assortment of “40 and 8” boxcars. They arrived in the assembly area at Charmois-devant-Bruyères at midnight on October 13. At 2:00 p.m. the next day the Combat Team began moving into position to attack the important road center of Bruyères the following morning. After several days of intense fighting, the enemy had been cleared from the town and its surrounding hills, and on October 23 the 442nd was ordered to take the next town, Biffontaine. Finally on October 24, they were taken off the front lines and put in reserve in nearby Belmont for a rest after eight days of heavy fighting, little to no sleep, harsh weather conditions, and many casualties.
In the afternoon of October 26, the short rest was abruptly ended when the 442nd was ordered to go into the lines the next morning and fight through to rescue the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Infantry Regiment. After moving too fast and over-reaching its support, they had become surrounded on three sides by the enemy and were unable to extricate themselves. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 141st Infantry Regiment, along with other units, had tried to rescue them, but were thrown back each time they attacked.
After two days of heavy fighting, on October 29 the 442nd was continuing the attack to break through to the beseiged Texans. Fierce fighting in the steep, forested hillsides of the Vosges was slow-going; the Germans were dug in and controlled the high ground. The 100th Battalion and I Company had reached the point where they were only 700 yards from linking up with the 141st. The 522nd Field Artillery, along with all the companies’ mortars, laid down a barrage on the German positions; and the break though was successful. It was during this fight that Private First Class Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi was among the five men killed and forty wounded from I Company. The hospital admission card states that he was hit in the shoulder by fragments of an artillery shell and died in the line of duty.
Private First Class Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Epinal, France, in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains about 20 miles from where he was killed. He was survived by his parents, ten brothers, and two sisters. His memorial service was held on November 26, 1944, at 2:00 p.m. at Grace Chapel, Wahiawa, with the Rev. Takeo Shimotori officiating.
For his military service, Private First Class Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi 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 Distinguished Unit Badge. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on October 5, 2010, along with the other veterans of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team. This is the highest Congressional Civilian Medal.
On December 9, 1945, Pfc. Yamauchi was among the hundreds of war dead of the 100th/442nd RCT who were honored at a memorial service held at McKinley High School auditorium. The service was under the auspices of the Veterans Clubs of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd RCT, the Women’s War Service Association, and the Emergency Service Committee. The main speaker was Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, commander of U.S. Army Pacific.
In 1948, the Army began the process of closing the smaller military cemeteries in Europe and offering the families an opportunity to bring their loved one home. Although Epinal was to remain one of the major cemeteries, Chiyoaki’s family chose to have his remains returned.
On September 1, Yamauchi was among 78 soldiers whose remains arrived in Honolulu from San Francisco on the USAT Dalton Victory at Pier 40 at 1:00 pm. This was the first of the ships bearing Hawaii’s fallen sons to return home.
Earlier that morning in waters off Diamond Head, the Coast Guard cutter Iroquois and the Navy destroyer escort George circled the choppy seas to meet the Dalton Victory. Four 442nd veterans were aboard the Iroquois and each dropped a giant orchid, rose, and anthurium wreath into the ocean next to the Dalton. As the ship entered the harbor, a 21-gun salute was fired from Fort Armstrong, and Army, Navy, and Marine planes flew overhead. As the ship docked at Pier 40, church bells tolled throughout Honolulu.
Hundreds and family and friends were there to greet the ship. George Miki, President of the 442nd Veterans Club, and Earl Finch of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, were on the dock to welcome the soldiers home and talk to the parents who were awaiting the arrival of the ship. The flag-draped caskets were held at the Army mausoleum at Schofield Barracks pending burial arrangements.
The following day there was a memorial processional with the caskets of two anonymous soldiers carried on caissons through downtown to a service at Iolani Palace, where they later lay in state in the Throne Room.
On July 26, 1949, Pfc. Chiyoaki Jerry Yamauchi was reinterred the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, Honolulu, Section D, Site 416.
Chiyoaki had four brothers who served in World War II:
100th Battalion – Pfc. Tatsumi Yamauchi, C Company and Pfc. Taketoshi Yamauchi, A Company
Military Intelligence Service – Pfc. Manabu Yamauchi and Pfc. Floyd Kozo Yamauchi
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.