Henry Sadami Ishida

Henry Sadami Ishida
Technician Fifth Grade
442nd Regimental Combat Team
522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery

Henry Sadami Ishida was born on March 14, 1921, in Waialua, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii.  His parents, Takazo and Umeno (Ishida) Ishida, emigrated from Hirabayashi, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in 1906 and 1913, respectively.  There were three children in the Ishida family:  sons Takaji (born in Niigata, emigrated in 1918) and Henry Sadami; and daughter Bettie Tameko.

In 1920, the family lived in Waialua at Mill Camp No. 9, where Takazo worked on the sugar plantation.  In 1930, the family was still at Mill Camp No. 9.  By 1940, Takazo was retired, and Henry was living with his family at Mill Camp No. 9 and employed as a mechanic in the plantation garage.

Ishida signed his draft registration card on February 15, 1942, Local Board No. 11, at the Fire Station in Waialua.  He was living with his family at House #11, Ranch Camp, Waialua.  He was employed by Waialua Agricultural Company and his point of contact was his brother Takaji Ishida.  He was 5’7” tall and weighed 128 pounds.

On March 23, 1943, Henry, known also as “Sanda,” enlisted in the U.S. Army.  His civilian occupation was listed as “fireman, fire department.”  He was sent to the “tent city” at Schofield known as Boom Town.  Ishida was among the group of new soldiers given a community farewell at Iolani Palace on March 28.  On April 4 he was on the S.S. Lurline with the other new soldiers as they headed for Oakland, California.

After debarking on the mainland and a train trip across the US, they arrived on April 18 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training.  Ishida was assigned to Headquarters Battery of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.  Upon learning that his friends from Waialua were in Service Battery, Sanda requested a transfer and it was granted.  While at Camp Shelby he played on the 522nd baseball team.  When the 522nd was on field maneuvers in Louisiana that winter, Ishida was one of four Service Battery men of the “PX detail.”  They lived in a hotel and were given a spending allowance.  When the Battalion was on break, they emerged to provide them with supplies and equipment.

After nearly a year of basic, specialized, and combat training and maneuvers, Ishida left by train with the 442nd for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  The Combat Team sailed on May 2 for the Theater of War from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of about 100 ships.  The 522nd was on the troop transport S.S. Johns Hopkins and landed on the east coast of Italy at Brindisi and Bari.  On May 28, they were sent on the 2-day trip by rail boxcars to Naples where the rest of the 442nd also arrived that day.

The Battalion was at Staging Area No. 4 in Bagnoli, a bivouac near Naples, until June 6, when they sailed on LST 526 for the overnight trip to Anzio.  Upon arrival, they climbed over the side and down on rope nets to the heaving swells below.  From Anzio, on June 9 they were sent in a midnight truck convoy around the newly liberated city of Rome to a large bivouac at Civitavecchia.  On June 11, the 522nd left the rest of the Combat Team and went to a bivouac near Tarquinia, 15 miles north.  For the next week, the men were issued day passes to Rome.  On June 21, as the Combat Team was preparing to move to the front lines, the 522nd moved 60 miles north to a forward assembly area near Grosseto, and two days later to yet another forward area 20 miles north at Gavarrano.  On June 24, the 522nd men sighted their first enemy plane and began digging foxholes for protection.  On June 25, the 522nd relieved elements of the 36th Infantry Division near Follonica.  This action was described as “grinding its way up narrow, winding mountain roads and occupying positions in the vicinity of Suvereto at 0420 hours on June 26.”

The 442nd RCT entered combat near Suvereto, about 60 miles north of Rome, on June 26, in the Rome-Arno Campaign.  The 522nd fought in support of the infantry, notably at Rosignano, Castellina, Hill 140, and the crossing of the Cecina River.  Their effectiveness in their “time fire” delivery of artillery (shells set to burst 20 yards in air above the target) was especially notable at Hill 140, where 4,544 rounds were fired in a 24-hour period.

After driving the enemy north to the Arno River, on September 6 the 442nd was pulled from the lines and sent south to the port of Piombino, 14 miles from Suvereto.  From Piombino they sailed to Naples on September 11.  The 522nd sailed in the U.S.S. Richard K. Call, while the vehicles of the 522nd were driven to Naples by motor convoy.  On September 27, they sailed on the U.S.S. Thurston from Naples to France.  Upon arrival near Marseilles, they were transferred to LSIs (similar to LSTs) and landed on the beach in high seas, rain, wind, and mud.  The next day, they were sent by rail boxcars and motor convoy to Battalion Area No. 51, a bivouac near Septèmes.

During the 10-day stay in their bivouac, day passes to Marseilles were issued and men also helped unload cargo at the port.

The 522nd fought in support of the 442nd during the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.  They left Septèmes by motor convoy on October 9 for the nearly 500-mile trip north to the Vosges Mountains.  After two overnight halts, they arrived at the Seventh Army assembly near Pouxeux on October 11.  Going to two more assembly areas closer to the front, the attack began in the vicinity of Bruyères on October 14.

Ishida was in combat during the bitter fighting to liberate the important rail and road junction of Bruyères, neighboring Biffontaine and Belmont, and the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 1st Battalion, 141st (Texas) Infantry that had advanced beyond the lines and was surrounded on three sides by the enemy.  Prior to the rescue of the 141st, the 522nd “saved” them by correctly questioning the 36th Division commander on his firing orders.  The 522nd forward observers noted that the firing coordinates were in the middle of the Lost Battalion’s position – so the coordinates were changed.

The weather was cold, wet, snowy, and miserable, as the men fought in the heavily wooded forests still in their summer uniforms.  They were subjected to living in foxholes, and incoming artillery raining down on them in “tree bursts.”  Many 442nd soldiers, including Henry Ishida, contracted trench foot during these terrible weather conditions in the Vosges.

After the fierce fighting in the Vosges, the 442nd was at half-strength due to high casualties, and was sent to the south of France.  There, they could rebuild to full combat strength while fighting in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign.

The 522nd left the lines on November 17 and moved to an assembly area near Cheniménil, 8 miles southwest of Bruyères, and arrived near Nice on the Mediterranean coast on November 21.

The Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign was mostly a defensive position guarding the French-Italian border from attack by the German army in Italy.  This was also called the “Champagne Campaign,” as the men were given passes to Nice on the French Riviera.  While there, the 522nd was mostly stationed in Sospel and, later, Menton.  The drive to Sospel was 45 miles from the coast up steep, winding, and narrow mountain roads.  The hairpin turns often required unhitching and manually pushing the battalion’s 105mm howitzers around the turns.  Ishida and Service Battery were stationed at the Battalion rest area on the outskirts of Nice.

The time in France ended when the 442nd RCT was sent back to Italy on March 22-25, 1945, for combat in the Po Valley Campaign.  Commanders of the Fifth Army and the Seventh Army fought among themselves for the privilege of having the 522nd assigned to their commands in Italy or Germany.  As it turned out, the 522nd Battalion was detached and sent to Germany for combat with the Seventh Army in the Central Europe Campaign, adding firepower to its assault on the Siegfried Line.

The 522nd left Menton on March 9 and drove 500 miles north, arriving on March 12.  They crossed the Saar River into Germany at Kleinbittersdorf.  For the next two weeks, the Battalion supported a breakthrough of the Siegfried Line, captured a German 150mm howitzer and used it again the enemy, supported the 45th Infantry Division’s crossing of the Rhine River near Worms, and captured 21 prisoners.  The 522nd crossed the Rhine River in the middle of the night on March 27 and 28 on a treadway pontoon bridge.

The Battalion chased the retreating German army across the country, becoming a roving artillery unit known for its shooting speed, pinpoint accuracy, and quickness in setting up and taking down for movement to the next place.  During its time in Germany, the Battalion was attached to four different Divisions, made 52 displacements, and fired 15,219 rounds on the enemy.

Sanda was one of the Service Battery drivers who carried supplies, ammunition, and rations.  One day he was in a group of trucks carrying ammo on a road near the Black Forest searching for an ammo depot when the lead vehicles were hit by the Germans.  Ishida said it was a “bloody mess” with one officer and four others killed.  The dead men were placed in his truck and he drove them to their headquarters.

Later, elements of the 522nd liberated one of the sub-camps of Dachau concentration camp and were in the area where the former inmates were roaming in search of food.  Ishida remembered sharing his rations with some of the just-released prisoners and the striped pajama-like clothes they wore.

Ishida and friend Minoru Hirozawa
at Service Battery headquarters in Baumenheim

During the occupation following the end of the war on May 8, 1945, Ishida was with Service Battery in Baumenheim, one of the villages near Donauworth where the 522nd was performing occupation duties.  He was once again on the 522nd baseball team.  Sanda went with other soldiers on a pass to Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s retreat, Eagle’s Nest – and he brought home a piece of marble from one of the building’s mantels.

Waialua men of the 522nd at Baumenheim: L to R. Front: Kiyoshi Sadanage, Henry Isida, Mitsuru Kunihiro. Rear: Edward Nakagawa, Tsutomu Fujioka, Tokushi Tanaka

Ishida finally left Germany at the end of 1945.  He arrived back in Honolulu on the troop ship USAT Mexico on January 15, 1946, with hundreds of returning war veterans.  He was discharged from the Army on January 18, 1946.

For his wartime service, Technician Fifth Grade Henry S. Ishida was awarded the following medals:  Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, and Distinguished Unit Badge.  Ishida 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.  He was also awarded the Légion d’honneur, founded by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802, for his wartime service in France.

In 1947, Henry was living in Waialua and working as a firefighter at Schofield Barracks.   About this time, his Service Battery buddy, Minoru Hirozawa, introduced Sanda to his sister, Doris Michie Hirozawa, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Masaichi Hirozawa of Eleele, Kauai.  They married on August 6, 1949, at Holy Trinity Church in Honolulu.  Minoru was their best man and another 522nd Service Company buddy, Mits Kunihiro, was an usher.

Doris Ishida’s wedding photo

In 1950, Henry and Doris lived at 1840-D Kahakai Drive in Honolulu.  He worked as a firefighter and Doris was a clerk/stenographer for the Bureau of Employee Compensation.

Over the years, they raised one daughter, Laurie.  Henry was employed by the U.S. Army as a draftsman at Fort Shafter in Honolulu.  He was also a member of the 442nd Veterans Club and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

In 2019, Ishida was interviewed by Honolulu Magazine.  The article revealed that he loved skeet shooting, photography, animals, eating sweets, and fixing cars.  His daughter recalled that when she tried to sneak out after curfew, she would discover that he had taken parts of the car apart to make it undrivable.  And their house was always full with numerous pets – dogs, parakeets, guinea pigs, mice, rabbits, and chickens.

100th birthday photo with granddaughter Alyssa Oue

When he turned 100, Honolulu’s KHON television station wished him a Happy Birthday.  They provided a quote from Henry:  “The secret to a long life is being happy every day.”

Henry Ishida died on August 13, 2022, at the age of 101.  He was inurned on January 3, 2023, at the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Section C12-TT, Row 300, Site 301.  His wife predeceased him on August 7, 2014.  Their niche stone is engraved, “You will be remembered – Go For Broke.”

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with assistance by his daughter and granddaughter, who are members, in 2021 (updated in 2023).

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