Masayoshi Yoneda, Private First Class, C Battery, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd RCT
Masayoshi Yoneda was born on October 1, 1923, in Pearl City, Oahu, T.H., to Gonzuchi and Matsuyo (Mitakara) Yoneda. His father Gonzuchi arrived in Hawaii in 1913 from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. His mother Matsuyo Mitakara was born in Kapapala (also known as Pahala), Kau District, Hawaii, T.H., to Eikichi and Riyu (Kudamatsu) Mitakara. Eikichi and Ryu arrived in Hawaii in 1898 from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Masayoshi was the eldest of three sons and three daughters in the Yoneda family.
In the 1940 Federal Census, the family was living at 60 Ashley Avenue in Pearl City. Sixteen-year-old Masayoshi was employed as a boat caretaker at a yacht club.
On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, he was fishing along the shore of Pearl Harbor, next to his home. When the attack began, the Japanese Zero planes were so close that he could see the faces of the pilots. Once the bombing began, he stood speechless, wondering what was going on. Then his mother ran out of the house frantically screaming for him to get inside.
Masayoshi Yoneda (also known as “Dick”) signed his WWII Draft Registration card on June 30, 1942, Local Board No. 9. At the time he was living with his family on Ashley Avenue, Peninsula, Pearl City. His point of contact was his father; he was employed by the Standard Dredging Corporation (at the Hawaiian Trust Building) and working at Keehi Lagoon, Kapalama Basin. He was 5’4”, 148 lbs.
He enlisted on March 25, 1943. His civilian occupation was listed as construction foreman. Dick was among the new inductees who were sent to Schofield Barracks, and then were at the community farewell Aloha ceremony on March 28 at Iolani Palace. He left Honolulu on the SS Lurline on April 4 with the rest of the new soldiers for San Francisco and the train ride across country to Camp Shelby for training. (right – 1943, with his sister Grace Kiyono Yoneda)
While at Camp Shelby, Yoneda was assigned to C Battery of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion. After basic training, specialized training, winter maneuvers in Louisiana, then D-Series maneuvers in the DeSoto National Forest near Camp Shelby, he left from Newport News, Virginia, on May 2, 1944, with the rest of the 442nd to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. The two ships carrying the 522nd Field Artillery anchored in Brindisi and Bari on the east coast of Italy on May 28 before heading by train in boxcars to the staging area in Bagnoli near Naples. The entire 442nd went into combat on June 26 near Suvereto.
Yoneda served in all the campaigns of the 522nd – Rome-Arno, Vosges/Rhineland, Maritime Alps (“Champagne Campaign”), and then into Germany on April 26, 1945, for the Central Europe Campaign. He was in Germany with the 522nd Field Artillery on V-E Day (May 8, 1945) and remained the rest of that year during the occupation in Donauworth.
His daughter remembers that he was the cook for his unit, a job that he loved. And he enjoyed shooting “street craps” with his Army buddies. From training camp, he sent his mother a lovely red satin throw pillow embroidered “Camp Shelby, Mississippi.”
On January 15, 1946, Yoneda was among the hundreds of returning veterans who arrived in Honolulu on the USAT Mexico. He was soon discharged and able to return to civilian life.
Dick married Florence Akiko Yuruki and raised a son and a daughter. He worked as a stevedore at Pearl Harbor. His daughter wrote that he was “a patient man, which showed in his favorite pastimes – fishing and growing orchids. He loved going fishing – from the shore, the pier, the breakwater. When he wasn’t fishing, he would tinker in the back yard, erecting ‘hot houses,’ made from green netting, to raise orchids. There were rows and rows of orchids, starting from the seedlings all the way to a full-size, blooming orchid. He had various species of orchids, but his favorite was the cattleya genus.” He loved giving friends the fish that he had caught or one of his hundreds of orchids. On the weekends he would sell orchids at the nearby swap meet.
Dick also loved hanging out with his Army buddies. And when he attended the many 442nd events, he proudly wore his Go For Broke white shirt with the 442nd Torch emblem stitched on the front pocket, specially made just for the veterans.
Masayoshi’s wife Florence died in 1968 and is presently interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. In 1980 he moved to the mainland and lived near Disneyland to be close to his daughter and grandchildren.
Masayoshi Yoneda died on April 23, 1989, in Garden Grove, California, and he was buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Plot 32, Site 680.
Note: Florence Yuruki Yoneda’s older brothers also served in World War II: Robert Fujio Yuruki, Company M, 442nd RCT; Tadao Yuruki, 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.