Hutao Roy Hinokawa

Hutao Roy Hinokawa
Technician Fifth Grade
442nd Regimental Combat Team
522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery

Hutao Roy Hinokawa was born on August 10, 1920, in Honokani Valley, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii.  He was the second of five children born to Keichi and Hayamo (Doi) Hinokawa:  three sons – Roderick Yoshio, Roy Hutao, Harry Tsuneo; two daughters – Misae, Shigeko.  Keichi and Hayamo emigrated from Yahata-mura, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.  Keichi arrived on April 5, 1907, on the Korea Maru in Honolulu.  Hayamo arrived on October 23, 1917 on the Siberia Maru.

Keichi worked initially for the Hawaii Railway Company, and by 1930, he was working for the Kohala Ditch Company as a carpenter.  In 1940, he was working as a carpenter in the construction business and son Hutao was a mechanic in an auto repair shop.  Keichi later became a foreman for the Kohala Ditch Company.

Hutao attended Kohala Elementary School and graduated from Kohala High School.  He was an active member of the Kohala Hi-Y Club, receiving a fellowship card and a YMCA pin at a ceremony in 1937 in Kohala.  The following year he was elected the club’s secretary.

Hinokawa registered for the draft on February 14, 1942, at Local Board No. 4 at Kapaau, Kohala.  He was employed by Kohala Sugar Company.  His point of contact was his father, Keichi.  Hutao was 5’7” tall and weighed 135 pounds.

On March 27, 1943, Hutao enlisted in the U.S. Army.  A group of 146 Big Island volunteers answered roll call at the Hilo Armory, then marched to Kalakaua Park where Colonel Foster G. Hetzel, Commanding Officer of the Hawaii Service Command, administered the enlistment oath.  This was the second group of Nisei volunteers from the Big Island men to be enlisted.  He was working at the time as an auto mechanic for the Aloha Service Station in Hilo.

Hutao was sent to Boom Town, the “tent city” at Schofield Barracks, with the other new soldiers.  They were given an aloha farewell ceremony by the community on March 28 at Iolani Palace.  On April 4, the new soldiers left on the S.S. Lurline for San Francisco enroute to Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  Following basic training, Hutao was assigned to the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery, of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT).

After 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 they boarded the USS Thurston and were shipped to Marseilles for the battles through France.  Hutao 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 9, 1945.  In the last week of April, elements of the Battalion stumbled into the horrifying death camps of the Dachau Concentration Complex, and is 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.  Hutao also fought in this Central Europe Campaign.

Below:  Service Battery at Baumenheim during the occupation; Furumizo is on the 4th row, second from right

For his military service, Technician Fifth Grade Hutao Roy Hinokawa 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.  Hutao 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.

Hutao returned to Hawaii aboard the USAT Mexico, arriving at Pier 39-B at 8:00 a.m. on January 15, 1946.  He was one of 432 military veterans on board.  He was discharged from the Army on January 17 from the Army Separation Center on Oahu.  He returned to Hawi in Kohala and was hired as an automobile mechanic by the Aloha Service Station, where he had worked before the war.

On October 17, 1947, he married Betty Kisae Azuma in Hawi, Kohala, Hawaii island.  They lived in Hawi, where he was a mechanic in the garage department at Kohala Sugar Company and Betty was on the office staff.  By 1951, they were living at 1968 Young Street in Honolulu and he was employed as a mechanic at Universal Motors Company Ltd.  They later moved to California.  The Hinokawas did not have any children.

Hutao Hinokawa died on September 6, 1965, in California Hospital, Los Angeles.  At the time, he and his wife were living at 3423 Somerset Drive.  Survivors included his widow, parents, and all of his siblings.

His remains were returned to Hawaii, where he was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, Section H, Site 656.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.

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