Fred Shiogi Ogata
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, K Company
Fred Shiogi Ogata was born on July 3, 1917, in Paia, Maui, Territory of Hawaii. He was one of ten children of Hikoshiro and Masu (Okawara) Ogata. His siblings were: brothers Hiroshi, Yoshihiko, Akira, Hideo, Hitoshi, and Masayoshi; sisters Fumiko, Winifred Kikuyo, and Hanako.
Hikoshiro emigrated from Kukushima Prefecture, Japan in 1907. He worked for the Maui Agricultural Company as a laborer, and later, as a track layer on their railroad. Masu emigrated from Yoshida village, Shinobu District, Kukushima Prefecture on the Shinyo Maru arriving on December 21, 1912. They were married in Honolulu on November 11, 1913. In 1930, father Hikoshiro was foreman at a sugar mill in Paia.
Fred was educated at Paia School and Maui High School. Before entering the service, he was employed as a mechanic for the Maui Pineapple Co., Ltd. He registered for the draft on October 26, 1940, at Local Board No. 3, in Paia. He listed his mother as the point of contact; he was 5’5” tall and weighed 140 pounds.
Fred Shiogi Ogata enlisted in the Army at Makawao, Maui, on March 23, 1943. He had completed two years of high school. His civilian occupation was listed as “unskilled occupation in fabrication of metal products.” He was sent to the “tent city” known as Boomtown at Schofield Barracks on Oahu with 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. Following basic training, he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, K Company.
After 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 in Naples, Italy, on May 28. He entered battle near Suvereto north of Rome on June 26. Fred fought in the Rome-Arno Campaign, up the western side of Italy, driving the German Army north of the Arno River.
On September 27, 1944, the 442nd was pulled out of the battle lines and sent by ship to Marseilles, France. They next traveled north 500 miles to the battle front in northeastern France to join the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign. Their first objective was to liberate the important road junction of Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains. The intense battles to liberate Bruyères and neighboring Biffontaine lasted from October 16-24. The combat team was then put into reserve in Belmont for a brief rest. After two days, on the afternoon of October 26, they were ordered to the front lines again to aid in the rescue of the Lost Battalion – the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Infantry Regiment. This battalion had gotten ahead of the lines and was surrounded on three sides by the enemy. Attempts by the 141st and other units to free it had been unsuccessful, so the 442nd was called in.
On October 29, 1944, the 100th and 3rd Battalions attacked at dawn. Fierce fighting in the steep, forested hillside of the Vosges was slow-going; the Germans had dug in and controlled the high ground. Artillery fire was heavy and casualties on both sides were very high. By the end of the day, K Company had heavy casualties, including the loss of all the officers. It was during this battle to rescue the Lost Battalion that Private Fred Shiogi Ogata was killed.
Private Fred Ogata was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Epinal, France.
For his military service, Private Fred Shiogi Ogata 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.
When the Army was closing the many small wartime cemeteries in Europe in 1948, the Ogata family was given the choice to have his remains shipped home or remain at the large cemetery at Epinal. They chose to have Fred’s body brought home.
On September 1, Fred Ogata was among 78 soldiers whose remains arrived in Honolulu Harbor from San Francisco on the USAT Dalton Victory at Pier 40 at 1:00 p.m. 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 Victory. 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, 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.
Private Fred Shiogi Ogata was reinterred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii, Section D, Site 318.
His brother, Hiroshi Ogata, served as a Private First Class 100th Battalion (Separate).
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.