Gordon Goro Yamaura

Gordon Goro Yamaura
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, K Company

Gordon Goro Yamaura was born on September 13, 1924, in Seattle, Washington.  He was one of six children born to Yojuro and Haruko (Makagawa) Yamaura.  His siblings were:  brothers Eugene Jun and Yoshio Roy; sisters Chiyoko, Miyo, and Margaret.  Yojuro emigrated from the city of Kamikawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, arriving in 1907.  Haru emigrated from the village of Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, arriving on September 12, 1912, at Seattle.  They were married on August, 31, 1912, in Seattle.

Yojuro was a self-employed vegetable peddler, selling his produce from a wagon.  In 1917, the family was living at 811 Plummer Street, Seattle.  By 1930, he was operating a grocery store and the family members were working in the store.

Gordon attended elementary and intermediate schools in Seattle, and graduated from Garfield High School.  During several summers, he worked on farms near Spokane, Washington, and when school was in session, he worked in the store.  In March 1942, when the evacuation and incarceration of Japanese citizens and resident aliens began, the family moved to Spokane.  As it was outside of the exclusion zone, they were able to avoid being sent to an internment camp.

Yamaura registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, at Local Board No. 2, Washington State Armory, Spokane.  His point of contact was T. Hashi, and he was working as a farm hand for J.W. Owens, Chaney, Washington.  He was 5’5” tall and weighed 142 pounds.  On August 8, 1942, the Spokane County Local Board No. 2 Selective Service order and serial numbers for the 18- to 20-age group were published in the newspaper.  Of 488 men, Gordon was number 329.  His residence was given as Mead, just north of Spokane.

Gordon Yamaura and Jeanette E. Macey had one son before he enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 31, 1943, in Spokane.  Their second son, James Dwight, was born while Gordon was at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where he had been sent for training.  Gordon was assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 3rd Battalion, K Company.

After a year of basic and specialized training and military exercises, the Combat Team left by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  On May 2, the 442nd left from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of over 100 ships, and arrived at Naples, Italy, on May 28.

After a few days at a staging area in nearby Bagnoli, they left on June 6 on LSTs for the overnight trip to Anzio, where they marched about five miles to a bivouac outside the city.  On June 9, they moved out to convoy through the recently liberated city of Rome to a large bivouac area in Civitavecchia, finally arriving two days later.  The next task was to physically prepare the men for their first combat mission.  From June 11 to 12, the Combat Team brushed up on marksmanship and tactics, and underwent strenuous conditioning – which included long marches over mountainous terrain.

The 442nd moved to a staging area near Grossetto before dawn on June 22, where some last-minute advice was given to the men before battle.  On June 24, the Combat Team moved to another bivouac area near Gravasanno, stayed overnight, and on June 25, marched thirteen miles to their final assembly area behind the lines.

They entered combat on June 26, near Suvereto.  The 3rd Battalion moved into the lines before dawn, relieving the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  They encountered fierce fighting from the Germans, but Suvereto and Belvedere were liberated by the end of the day.  On June 27, the 100th and 3rd Battalions were tasked to take Sassetta, about six miles north of Belvedere.  While the 100th made a frontal assault on the town, the 3rd Battalion made a wide flanking movement around the west side of town and seized the high ground north of Sassetta.

It was during this battle on June 27, 1944, that Private Gordon Goro Yamaura was killed.  His death was reported in the Spokesman-Review on July 26.  He was the first Nisei from Spokane to die in the war.

Private Gordon Goro Yamaura was interred at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Tarquinia, Italy,  Plot D, Row 16, No. 480.  He was survived by his two sons, his parents, and his siblings.

For his military service, Private Gordon Goro Yamaura 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.

Right:  Gordon’s son James, who was born three months after his father was killed in Italy.  James died in 2012.

On November 11, 1945, Gordon G. Yamaura was among Spokane’s fourteen war dead who were honored at a memorial service held at Grant Street Community Methodist Church in Spokane.  He was represented at the service by his father, Yojuro Yamaura.

In 1948, the US began the process of closing the many small wartime cemeteries overseas and giving families the choice to have their soldier’s remains reinterred in a permanent military cemetery or brought home to the US.  The Yamaura family chose to have Gordon returned home.

Pfc. Yamaura was among the 5,205 war dead aboard the USAT Corporal Eric G. Gibson that sailed from Livorno, Italy, on January 30, and arrived at Pier 3 at the Brooklyn Army Base in New York Harbor on February 10, 1949.  Ten of the men were from the Spokane area, known as the “Inland Empire.”  The ship was delayed by bad weather and it arrived at the dock as the memorial service was nearly concluded.  A crowd of 200 was gathered on the pier as the returning soldiers were eulogized by Lt. Col. Edward R. Martin, Chaplain of the New York Port of Embarkation.  The Army band from Fort Hamilton played, and representatives from veterans’ groups and Gold Star Mothers were in attendance. 

After his remains were returned to Spokane, Pfc. Gordon Yamaura was reinterred in the Geranium Lawn Section of Riverside Memorial Park cemetery.

Gordon Yamaura’s name is on the monument to Japanese immigrants and their descendants who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, which is located in the Cherry Blossom Lawn Section of Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane.

On November 7, 1971, the annual candlelight service for Spokane’s war dead was held at the Highland Park United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m.  Pfc. Gordon Yamaura was among the fourteen Spokane soldiers who were killed in World War II and one killed in Vietnam who were memorialized at the service.

Gordon’s brother, Eugene Jun Yamaura, served in the U.S. Army in World War II.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022.

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