David Masao Miura

David Masao Miura
Staff Sergeant
442nd Regimental Combat Team
100th Battalion, C Company

David Masao Miura was born on July 25, 1921, in Kapaa, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii.  He was the youngest child of Mankichi and Masa (Masamura) Miura.  His siblings were:  brothers Jihei (born in Japan) and Donald Yoshio, and sisters Chiyoko, Masako, Hatsuye, Umeko (died age 5), and Saboko.

Mankichi emigrated from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, arriving on November 13, 1901.  His wife, Masa, remained behind with their first son, Jihei.  In Japan, Mankichi had worked making Japanese treats.  After he arrived in Kauai, he worked on a sugar plantation for a while, then he began to work for a friend in Kapaa who also made such treats as senbei (crispy rice crackers).  Mankichi started making treats and selling them in Kapaa and nearby villages, carrying them in tin cans suspended from a long pole balanced on his shoulders.

Masa arrived on the Tenyo Maru on November 8, 1907.  In 1910, they were living in Kapaa where Mankichi established the M. Miura store, which sold senbei and other Japanese confections such as yokan, kanten, and okoshi.  Their oldest son, Jihei, arrived from Japan in 1910 and settled in Kapaa, working for his father at the M. Miura Store.

Mankichi and Masa had three children born in Kapaa, and in 1923, they took their family to Japan for a visit to Mankichi’s brother, Yasukuchi Miura, in Kukamachi, Yamaguchi Prefecture.  They departed on April 24 on the S.S. President Taft.  On September 26, 1923, they left from Kobe on the Siberia Maru, arriving in Honolulu on October 8.

Passport photos of the Miura children, April 14, 1923:  Chiyoko, Yoshio, Masao

In 1926, mother Masa Miura died when Masao was only five years old.

In 1930, the family was living on Waipouli Road in Kapaa.  Mankichi, a widower, was still the owner/operator of M. Miura Store.  By 1940 they had moved to Kealoha Road and Mankichi was retired.  Living with him were his children Masao and Hatsue and her family – husband Shinichi Masuoka, and their children Gary and Barbara.

Maxie, as Masao was known, was a member of Kapaa’s Boy Scout Troop 102.  In 1939, as a member of their basketball team, he was a high scorer in the opening game against the Lihue Scouts.  He was also a member of the Hui Lokahi Hi-Y Boys – and attended as a guest when the Hui Ilima Girls of Koloa gave a chop suey dinner at Poipu Beach.

David Miura signed his draft registration card on February 14, 1942, Local Board No. 2, Lihue Armory, in Lihue, Kauai.  His home address was Kapaa, and his point of contact was his brother Jihei Miura, at mailing address Box P, Kapaa.  David was a student at the time.  He was 5’4-1/2” tall and weighed 119 pounds.

By 1941, Maxie Miura was attending the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.  The next year, he became a member of the newly formed Varsity Victory Volunteers (VVV), the UH students and inactivated members of the Hawaii Territorial Guard who volunteered their services as an Army labor corps when they were not allowed to serve in the military.  On February 25, the group was given a sendoff from the UH campus, then escorted to Iolani Palace where Lieutenant General Delos C. Emmons, the martial law governor of the Territory of Hawaii, greeted them.

Afterwards, they were taken to Schofield Barracks where their duties were organized as a volunteer labor corps under Army direction.  As most of the men were former UH students who had taken engineering courses, they were placed as an auxiliary under Colonel John M. Silkman’s Engineer Regiment.  They began work on March 7.  Among other work, they operated a rock quarry 12 hours each day, built portable four-man “dog houses” for soldiers to live in, and helped to build a railroad, string barbed wire entanglements, and construct essential field equipment such as iceboxes and fly traps.

Camp life for the VVV men was described in a series of articles in the Honolulu Advertiser in June 1942.  They lived in three two-story frame barracks at Schofield – Varsity Hall, Victory Hall, and Volunteers Hall – and paid $28.60 each month for their room and board.  They ran their own mess hall and grew their own vegetables.

One of their efforts was buying U.S. War Bonds.  When they received their first $90 monthly paycheck on April 9, each of the 159 men purchased one bond, and this continued each month to a total of $36,000.  They also donated money to the United Welfare Fund and blood to the Honolulu Blood and Plasma Bank, and collected salvage materials for war use.  In their leisure time, they had a busy program of sports activities and teams.  They were able to take correspondence courses at UH at a 50 percent reduction in tuition fees.  A weekly news bulletin, The Volunteer, was issued by the young men as well.  They also donated 65 toys they had made or repaired/repainted to the Honolulu Council of Social Agencies for distribution at Christmas to needy children and those in foster homes and hospitals.

On January 31, 1943, the 157 members were officially mustered out of their civil service to Hawaii during the first year of the war.  The young men had requested the muster out so they could enlist in the Army.  The brief inactivation ceremony was held on the steps of Iolani Palace at 11:45 a.m.  It was conducted by Brigadier General Hans Kramer of the Engineer Department, under whose guidance the VVVs had worked.  He commended them for their work and expressed his confidence in their “performance in a new and greater role as fighting members of the United States Army.”  He also noted that the men would be all the better soldiers because they were first in a labor battalion.

On March 11, 1943, David Masao “Maxie” Miura enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He had completed one year of college at the time.  He was sent with other new soldiers to Schofield Barracks.  On March 28, they were given an aloha farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace, prior to leaving on April 4 on the S.S. Lurline for California.  From Oakland, they went by train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

After arrival, Miura was assigned to an infantry company of the 442nd and went through months of basic and combat training.  While at Camp Shelby in September 1943, Miura was promoted to Private First Class.

The 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) had arrived in Italy in September 1943 and entered combat as part of the 34th (Red Bull) Infantry Division in the Naples-Foggia Campaign.  They suffered huge casualties, and were below combat strength after the fierce battles at Monte Cassino in January 1944.  C Company, for example, had arrived with 170 men and was down to only 23 remaining.

At this time, replacements were sent from the 442nd at Camp Shelby to replenish the ranks of the 100th.  Maxie Miura was in one of the first two of the three waves of 442nd soldiers sent as replacements in early 1944, arriving in the Spring.  He was assigned to C Company.

Miura was with the 100th when they were sent to the Anzio beachhead on March 26.  Their mission there was to patrol their assigned area, guard against infiltration by the Germans, and learn anything they could about the enemy’s troop movements.  The 100th, along with other Allied forces, began their breakout from Anzio on May 23.  On June 3, the 100th cleared enemy resistance from Hill 435 near Lanuvio, only seven miles from Rome.  This was the last enemy stronghold before Rome and two battalions had earlier been unsuccessful in a breakthrough.

The 442nd arrived in Italy from the US on May 28, heading to a large bivouac area at Civitavecchia.  The 100th joined them there on June 11 in bivouac.  Together, they went into combat on June 26 for the Rome-Arno Campaign, pushing the Germans up the west coast of the Italian peninsula.  In late September 1944, the Combat Team was transferred to France, arriving at Marseilles on the 29th.  Miura fought in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign in northeast France – the liberation of Bruyères and Biffontaine, and the famed “Rescue of the Lost Battalion” – the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Regiment that had advanced beyond its supply lines and been surrounded by the enemy.  Attempts by the 141st to free it had been unsuccessful, so the 442nd was called in.

Following action in the Vosges, the Combat Team had suffered so many casualties that it was below fighting strength.  It was sent to southern France to fight in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, arriving on November 22, 1944.  This was mostly a defensive position to guard against German incursion across the Italian border.  While there, Miura was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant in January 1945.

On March 20 to 22, 1945, the 442nd returned to Italy for the Po Valley Campaign.  On April 5, the Combat Team set off in the mountainous area of the west coast of northern Italy with the mission of cracking the western anchor of the Gothic Line.  In what was ordered as a diversionary attack to draw off critical German army units from the Gothic Line center, the 442nd RCT rapidly crushed the German defenses, and continued on the attack, turning the planned diversion into a full-scale breakthrough of the vaunted Gothic Line, liberating the west of Italy all the way to Turin.  Miura fought in this campaign.  He remained during the occupation – at Nove Ligure, Ghedi Airfield (processing German prisoners), Lecco, and the Livorno area.

Staff Sergeant Miura returned to Hawaii and was discharged from the U.S. Army on January 26, 1946.

For his military service, Staff Sergeant David Masao Miura was awarded the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with silver star (five campaigns), World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge with oak leaf cluster, and Combat Infantryman 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 April 16, 1947, the Honolulu Advertiser reported that S/Sgt. David M. Miura of 241-A South Vineyard Street received both the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal in a ceremony at Fort Shafter.  The medals were presented by Lt. General John E. Hull, commander of U.S. Army Ground Forces in the Pacific.  The Silver Star was awarded for displaying courage, aggressiveness, and superior leadership in securing three objectives in the Po Valley Campaign on April 6, 1945.  The citation reads in part:

Without a thought for personal safety in leading his squad, he charged from one enemy dugout to another.  Sgt. Miura was directly responsible for taking eleven prisoners and made it possible for his company to gain its objectives.  His gallant action was an inspiration to his comrades and reflects honor upon the United States Army.

Gen. Hull and Sgt. Miura with Silver Star and Bronze Star

The citation for Miura’s Bronze Star Medal reads in part:

Spotting a suspicious-looking figure in front of him, he worked his way to within ten yards of the object.  Suddenly, the enemy opened up with an automatic rifle and three machine guns, seriously wounding him.  Despite this injury, he brought his submachine gun into position and knocked out the automatic fire.  As he was being evacuated, he showed his men the disposition of the enemy guns and how to eliminate them.

On April 27, 1946, Maxie was on the VVV Club’s formal dance committee as they celebrated their fourth anniversary at Hemenway Hall on the UH campus.  A few weeks later, June 14, he was an usher at the wedding of his brother Dr. Donald Yoshio Miura to Ellen Kinuko Muramatsu, at Makiki Christian Church in Honolulu.  Donald had graduated from the Washington University School of Dentistry in St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1947, David married Barbara S. Nishimoto – who was born on May 11, 1922, in California.  Over the years, they raised a family of one son and two daughters.

On June 10, 1947, David left Hawaii on Pan American Airways for San Francisco, California.  He traveled on to St. Louis, Missouri, where he entered the Washington University School of Dentistry.  The following year, his father Mankichi Miura died on October 11.  By 1950, David and Barbara were living at 1406 Rutger Street in St. Louis, with their 1-year-old son, Douglas Todd Miura.

On June 6, 1951, David received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from Washington University.  The family moved to Long Beach, California, which he later described as a “place of opportunity.”  His dental office was at 3810 Atlantic Avenue and the family lived at 1993 Gale Avenue.  David joined the Uptown Optimist Club and soon became its chairman.  In his spare time, he became an avid fisherman.  He and Barbara were active in the Long Beach Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).  In 1965, he was appointed to the newly formed Advisory Board of the Fair Housing Foundation of Long Beach.  Dave was also a trustee of the Japanese American Community Services group, whose mission was to address issues such as juvenile delinquency, aging, G.I. brides, and family counseling.  In a 1967 letter to the editor of Long Beach’s Independent newspaper, he stated that he had worked for many years in the areas of civil rights and human relations.

In September 1971, David and Barbara divorced.  Their elder daughter Audre Gail Miura died the following year on June 16.  On December 26, 1973, Miura married Ritsuko Aoki Iwasaki, at the ages of 52 and 42, respectively.  They lived in Long Beach, where his dental practice was incorporated in 1974.

Dr. David M. Miura died in Long Beach, California, on November 28, 2009.  His name is inscribed on the Miura family tombstone in Kapaa-Kealia Cemetery on Kauai.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2023.

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