Technician Fifth Grade
442nd Regimental Combat Team
552nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery
Hiromi Fujiwara was born on September 26, 1920, in Pepeekeo, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii, to Shinjiro and Chieno (Matsumoto) Fujiwara. He was the second eldest of three sons and one daughter: Isami, Hiromi, Teruto, and Tokie. Shinjiro emigrated in 1916 from Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. He worked as a clerk in the Pepeekeo plantation store. Chieno was born in Pepeekeo and was a fish seller.
In 1930, the family was living in Honokaa and Shinjiro was the proprietor of a restaurant.
In 1937, he was a member of the Honokaa Japanese Alumni Association and elected one of its directors. In March 1938, he was one of the six delegates chosen at Honokaa Union Church to attend the Young People’s Conference in Kona. He also was on the church’s Easter Pageant and fundraising committee for the church. Hiromi was a 1937 member of the Honokaa High School’s Dragons basketball team.
In September 1939, Hiromi began his freshman year at University of Hawaii – where he was listed as a graduate of McKinley High School in Honolulu. The following year, 1940, he and his brother Isami were living with their uncle Kenzo Matsumoto and his family at 2340 Date Street in Honolulu.
Hiromi registered for the draft on February 14, 1942, at Local Board No. 3, National Guard Armory, Honolulu. His point of contact was Yoshio Matsumoto, 1227 Keeaumoku Street. He had attended two years of college; and was employed by Hawaiian Constructors at Maryknoll School as a carpenter. Fujiwara was 5’4” tall and weighed 110 pounds.
On March 24, 1943, Hiromi enlisted in the U.S. Army at Schofield Barracks. He was sent to Boom Town, the “tent city” at Schofield Barracks where all the recent volunteers were housed. On March 28, they were given an aloha farewell ceremony by the community at Iolani Palace. On April 4, they left on the S.S. Lurline for San Francisco. After arriving on the mainland, Hiromi and the rest of the new soldiers were sent by train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training. Following basic training, Hiromi was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery, of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT).
Following a year of unit training, the Combat Team left Camp Shelby on April 22, 1944, for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. On May 2, they departed from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of over 100 ships enroute to Europe. The 522nd was aboard the transport ship John Hopkins, which arrived at the east coast of Italy. The main body of the Battalion disembarked at Brindisi and the remainder at Bari. The rest of the 442nd had landed in Naples on the west coast on May 28. After debarking, the 522nd soldiers loaded into “40 and 8” railroad boxcars from WWI, and traveled to Bagnoli, near Naples, where their howitzers, vehicles, and other equipment had been delivered. They got down to the task of getting prepared for combat. A week later they were ready, and on June 6, they boarded the US LST 526 at Port Nisidra and sailed to the Anzio beachhead. From there to June 11, the Battalion continued to move north, conducting training enroute, and rejoined the 442nd infantry battalions near Civitavecchia.
On June 26, the first artillery rounds were fired against the Germans near Suvereto in support of the 442nd RCT. The 522nd’s howitzers continued their fire support of the advance of the RCT infantry battalions as they pushed the Germans north. On September 11, the Battalion was moved from Pisa back to Naples aboard the USS Richard K. Call; then, on September 27 boarded the USS Thurston and shipped to Marseilles for the battles through France. Hiromi participated in all the battles of the Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaigns in France.
In February 1945, the 522nd was reassigned to the Seventh Army to add its firepower to the assault on the Siegfried Line in the German homeland. Often the lead element in the chase across Germany, the 522nd made 52 displacements, firing 15,019 rounds, from March 12 to the end of the war on May 8, 1945. In the last week of April, elements of the Battalion stumbled into the horrifying death camps of the Dachau Concentration Complex, and are credited with liberating at least one of the subcamps and rescuing thousands of prisoners from the “Dachau Death March.” Additionally, they liberated French Army prisoners from another prison camp. When the war ended, the Battalion was assigned security missions around Donauworth, 72 miles northwest of Munich. Hiromi also fought in this Central Europe Campaign.
For his military service, Technician Fifth Class Hiromi Fujiwara was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal. Hiromi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on October 5, 2010, along with the other servicemen of the 100th/442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. This is the highest Congressional Civilian Medal.
Hiromi arrived home on November 20, 1945, on the USAT Tabinta. The ship carried 103 Hawaii veterans and docked at 8:00 a.m. at Pier 26 in Honolulu Harbor. There were no relatives and no band to greet them. The men had waited weeks and, in some cases, months, before leaving California for Hawaii.
He was discharged from the Army on November 24, 1945, at an Army Separation Center on Oahu.
After the war, Hiromi returned to college, studying business and economics at the University of Hawaii (UH). In May 1947, he was a member of UH’s Commerce Club, and co-chairman of the Club’s annual banquet committee. The banquet was held on June 5 at Queen’s Surf in Honolulu.
Right: Senior class photo from University of Hawaii
On February 28, 1948, he married Ann Namiko Takaki. Hiromi graduated from UH the same month with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
In April 1950, the building of Hiromi and Ann’s home on Lot 122 in the Carlos Long Subdivision in Palolo Valley, Honolulu, was completed. The address was 3255 Poinciana Place. Hiromi was employed as an auditor at Fort Shafter. They raised a family of two sons and two daughters. Hiromi was a member of the 442nd Veterans Club.
Hiromi Fujiwara of Honolulu passed away on July 2, 2017, in California. He was retired from civil service at Fort Shafter. His survivors included one son, two daughters, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. A memorial service was held at Hosoi Mortuary on August 5. He was buried on August 7 in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Section V, Site 1098. His wife, Ann, who died in 2007, and son Guy Yoki, who died at the age of seven in 1963, are buried next to him. Hiromi’s grave marker is inscribed “Always in our Hearts,” and “522 FAB Go For Broke.”
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.