Fred Yoshito Kameda
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, I Company
Fred Yoshito Kameda was born on May 5, 1923, in Waialua, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. He was one of nine sons of Genzo and Kazu (Tsukada) Kameda. Genzo and Kazu arrived from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, in 1899 and 1906, respectively. Genzo worked for Waialua Agriculture Company.
Fred was educated at Waialua Elementary School and graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu in 1941. While at Mid-Pac he was active in the Drama Club. He and his brothers were well-known baseball players in the pre-war years. Fred was a pitcher on the Mid-Pacific school team.
Kameda registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, at Local Board No. 11, Waialua Fire Station, in Waialua. At the time he was living with his family in House 68, Mill 13 in Waialua and employed as a truck helper or “engine tender” by the Waialua Agriculture Company (sugar mill). He was 5’8” tall and weighed 152 lbs. He listed Tom Kameda, an older brother, of Poamoho Camp in Wahiawa as his point of contact.
Private First Class Fred Yoshito Kameda enlisted in the Army at Schofield Barracks on Oahu on March 23, 1943. His civilian occupation was listed as “accountants/auditors.” He was a clerk at Territorial Motors Ltd. in Honolulu. He was sent with other inductees to the tent city known as “Boom Town” at Schofield Barracks. On March 28, they were given a community farewell at Iolani Palace. On April 4, they sailed on the S.S. Lurline to San Francisco. After a train trip across the US, they arrived at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training. After basic training, Fred was assigned to 3rd Battalion, I Company.
After over a year of training, Fred shipped out to Europe with the 442nd on May 2, 1944, from Hampton Roads, Virginia, in a convoy of over 100 ships. After arriving in Naples, Italy, the end of the month, the battalion spent a week at a staging area in nearby Bagnoli before leaving on LSTs for Anzio on June 6, where they marched 5 miles to a bivouac area.
From Anzio, the 442nd went to a large bivouac area at Civitavecchia, north of Rome, where they went through additional training and final preparations for going to the front lines. While there, Fred reunited with some old buddies – Toshio Nakahara of L Company, Larry (“Cupie”) Shigeyasu and Mitsuru Watanabe of 100th Battalion, B Company, and “Eggs” Kamikawa. They had played on the 442nd baseball team at Camp Shelby. They “spent the whole day just talking of old times and of what we’ll soon see,” as Nakahara later wrote.
On June 26, 1944, the 442nd RCT moved forward from Civitavecchia to the front lines for their first combat engagement. The units were in place pre-dawn; I Company pushed off at 9:00 a.m. Two hours later they were stopped by fierce resistance from the Germans, unable to advance beyond Suvereto. Pfc. Fred Yoshito Kameda died of wounds received during this first engagement.
For his military service, Private First Class Fred Yoshito Kameda was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, 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.
Pfc. Kameda was interred at the U.S. Army Cemetery at Tarquinia, Italy. His family held a memorial service for him on July 30, 1944, at the Waialua Hongwanji Mission.
On December 9, 1945, a memorial service for 266 war dead of the 100th/442nd, including Kameda, 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 US, if the family so wished. As a result, on April 21, 1949, Pfc. Fred Y. Kameda 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 retained in the Army mausoleum on Oahu pending funeral arrangements.
On May 30, 1949, Kameda was one of sixteen fallen soldiers from Waialua and Kahuku who were memorialized at a service held at the Memorial Tower in Waialua Park. The service was sponsored by the Waialua Lions Club, 100th and 442nd Veterans Clubs, Waialua National Guard, and local post of the American Legion.
Private First Class Fred Yoshito Kameda was interred on July 28, 1949, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu, Section D, Site 366. On August 2 his family published a Card of Thanks in the newspaper expressing their gratitude for all the kindnesses and floral offerings they had received. His government gravestone was ordered from West Chelmsford, Massachusetts, on January 13, 1950.
His brother Akio Donald Kameda also served in the 442nd in I Company. Brother Kazumi Robert Kameda served in Military Intelligence during World War II.
Excerpts taken from In Freedom’s Cause: A Record of the Men of Hawaii Who Died in the Second World War (1949) with permission from The University of Hawaii Press.
Original Biography prepared by Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance, and provided courtesy of Japanese American Living Legacy (http://www.jalivinglegacy.org/)
Researched and rewritten by 442nd S&D 5/31/2021.