Hiroshi Rusty Nagakura

Hiroshi Nakamura Nagakura, T/5, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 442nd RCT

Hiroshi, also called Rusty, was born January 10, 1925, in Kahiliwai, Kauai, T.H.  He was one of three children (he had two older sisters:  Flora Itsue and Misau) of Shinsaku and Yuka (Doi) Nagakura.  After his father, died his mother remarried.  On December 15, 1926, in Kapaa, Kauai, T.H., his 47-year-old widowed mother, Yuka Nagakura, married 46-year-old bachelor Hakaru Nakamura, who had arrived in Hawaii from Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 1905.  Yuka arrived in Hawaii in 1920 from Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.  He had several half-sisters in Japan.

Hiroshi Nagakura moved to Honolulu while he was still in high school.  He was a student at McKinley High and a part-time food department worker at the Kress store on Fort Street when he signed his WWII Draft Registration card on January 16, 1943.  The teenager had been fined $50 for signing his card six days late.  His point of contact was Eddie Tominaga, and he was 5’4”, 135 lbs.  He signed with Local Board No. 4 in Honolulu.

Hiroshi was inducted into the U.S. Army on March 24, 1943, and among the new soldiers living in tents at Schofield Barracks.  His Army Serial No. was 30104802.  On March 28, the men were given a community farewell ceremony on the grounds of Iolani Palace.  They were sent to the mainland on the SS Lurline on April 4, then traveled by train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for basic training.  On May 2, 1944, the 442nd left the U.S. in a large convoy of ships for the Theater of Operations in Italy.

The 442nd entered combat at Suvereto on June 26, 1944.  Nagakura participated in the Rome-Arno Campaign before the unit moved to France on September 27.  After the Vosges Campaign, they returned to Italy for the Appenines Campaign.  No record of Hiroshi being wounded was found.

For his wartime service, Rusty Nagakura was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Distinguished Unit Badge.  After V-E Day on May 8, 1945, he arrived back home with several hundred other veterans on the troop ship USAT Aconcagua on December 6, 1945, at Pier 26 in Honolulu.  On December 23 he was discharged from the U.S. Army in Honolulu.

Hiroshi married Gertrude Oka and over the years they had three sons.  He completed his college education.  By 1956 the family lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he was an electrical engineer at IBM.  A year later he was a staff engineer in the Magnetic Tape Devices Department.  He later left IBM and became Vice President of Memorex in September 1971 in Santa Clara, California.  Rusty was an avid golfer and played in local tournaments.

Hiroshi Nagakura died on January 23, 1977, in Santa Clara.  He was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on April 1, 1985, in Section R, Row 857.  His wife Gertrude died in 2013 and is buried with him.

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