Harry Hiroshi Tokushima
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, I Company
Harry Hiroshi Tokushima was born on November 27, 1917, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was the only child of John Tsurukichi and Sao (Ampi) Tokushima. Tsurukichi emigrated from the town of Kasemura, Saga Prefecture, Japan, arriving on April 26, 1906, on the S.S. Alameda in San Francisco, California. Sao emigrated from the village of Nakatusu, Fukuoka Prefecture, arriving in Tacoma, Washington, on August 20, 1914, on the Canada Maru. They were married in Kasemura, Japan, on December 14, 1912. At the time Harry was born, his parents lived in Sandy, Utah, and his father was a farmer in nearby Midvale.
Harry graduated from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, and was active in football, track, and the Commercial and Accounting Clubs.
He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, at Local Board No. 220 at 2601 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. At the time, he was living with his family at 911 W. 37th Place. He listed his father as his point of contact; he was 5’8½” tall and weighed 137 pounds. He was employed as a clerk by the Sunrise Produce Company at 4000 W. Pico Boulevard.
Harry Hiroshi Tokushima enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 22, 1941, in Los Angeles. At the time, he was working as a clerk and had two years of college.
His parents were evacuated to Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA) Assembly Center at Santa Anita Race Track in the spring of 1942. A few months later, they were incarcerated at Granada WRA Relocation Camp, also known as Camp Amache, in southeast Colorado. While there, they lived in Block 6E 4-F.
A record of his basic training and follow-on assignments is not known. In March 1943, he was reassigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 3rd Battalion, I Company at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. After nearly a year 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. The 442nd entered battle near Suvereto north of Rome on June 26.
Harry 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 then traveled 500 miles north to the battlefront 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 nine days, October 16 to 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, I Company had heavy losses and casualties. Shiro Kashino of I Company was assigned by the 3rd Battalion Commander to be the leader of a group to carry rations to those engaged in direct combat with the Germans. Shiro asked for volunteers, six each from I and K Company, finally succeeding the second time around in the recruiting. He assigned Ken Inada of K Company to bring up the rear. The group was hit by an artillery round; eight of the thirteen were killed. There was no written record of the names of those on the ration detail; there were no I Company survivors.
The field hospital record for October 1944, stated that he was killed in the line of duty by an artillery shell. He was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery in nearby Epinal. On February 25, 1945, his name appeared in the Fort Collins Coloradan newspaper among the 19 Coloradans recently killed in action in Europe. His residence was listed as Amache. According to the newspaper, the War Department had just made public the names of 1,844 soldiers killed, after all of the next of kin had been notified.
For his military service, Sergeant Harry Hiroshi Tokushima was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, 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.
In 1948, the remains of Americans buried overseas began slowly to return to the US, if the family so wished. Harry Tokushima was brought home on the USAT Lawrence Victory, which arrived in New York on May 6, 1948. He was among 142 Californians of the 4,183 war dead on the transport ship, who had been buried in France. The ship arrived at Pier 3 at 11:00 a.m. at the Brooklyn Army Base in New York Harbor and a dockside memorial service was held on the upper level of the pier. The mayor New York ordered all flags in the city to be flown at half-mast.
Sgt. Harry Hiroshi Tokushima was reinterred in Section A of the Nisei Soldiers Plot, next to the Nisei Veterans Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.