Matsuichi Yogi

Matsuichi Yogi
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, K Company

Matsuichi Yogi was born on October 6, 1922, in Waimea, Koolauloa, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii.  He was the son of Shinmei and Haru (Higa) Yogi.  His siblings were:  brothers George Shinji, Shinsuke, Nobukichi, and Larry Shigero; and sisters Carol Hatsue and Setsue.

Shinmei was from the village of Nakashiro, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.  He emigrated in 1907, and worked as a cane loader for the Waianae Sugar Company.  Haru arrived on December 20, 1921, from the village of Nakagushka, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture on the Tenyu Maru.  Shinmei had returned to Okinawa to marry Haru.

In 1930, the family lived in Mill Camp, Waipahu.  Matsuichi was educated at Waipahu Elementary School, Oahu.  He loved to play baseball.  Before entering the service, he was employed by E.E. Black, Ltd. as a steel man.  He worked at Pearl Harbor’s West Loch.

He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, Local Board No. 9, August Ahrens School in Waipahu.  He listed his father as his point of contact and their home was Camp 1, House 376, Waipahu.  He was 5’8” tall and weighed 140 pounds.

Matsuichi enlisted in the Army at Waipahu on March 23, 1943.  He was listed as “semiskilled in the mechanical treatment of metals.”  He was sent to the “tent city,” known as Boom Town, at Schofield Barracks with the other recruits.  They were given a farewell aloha 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, he was assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 3rd Battalion, K Company.

After many months of training, the 442nd left Camp Shelby for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  They shipped out to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in a large convoy of troop ships on May 2 from nearby Hampton Roads and arrived at Naples, Italy, on May 28.

The Combat Team entered battle near Suvereto north of Rome on June 26.  Matsuichi fought in the Rome-Arno Campaign, up the western side of Italy, driving the German Army north of the Arno River.

On September 27, 1944, the 442nd was pulled out of the battle lines and sent by ship to Marseilles, France.  After a week at a bivouac area in Septèmes, they traveled north 500 miles to the battle front in northeastern France to join the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.

Their first objective was to liberate the important road and rail junction of Bruyères in the Vosges Mountains.  The intense battles to liberate Bruyères and neighboring Biffontaine lasted from October 16-24.  The Combat Team was then put into reserve in Belmont for a rest.  After only two days, on the afternoon of October 26, they were ordered to the front lines again to rescue the Lost Battalion – the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Infantry Regiment.  This battalion had gotten ahead of the lines and was surrounded on three sides by the enemy.  Attempts by the 141st and other units to free it had been unsuccessful, so the 442nd was called in.

On October 29, 1944, the 100th and 3rd Battalions attacked at dawn.  Fierce fighting in the steep, forested hillside of the Vosges was slow-going; the Germans had dug in and controlled the high ground.  Artillery fire was heavy and casualties on both sides were very high.  By the end of the day, K Company had heavy losses and casualties, including the loss of all the officers.  It was during this battle to rescue the Lost Battalion that Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi was killed.

Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery in nearby Epinal, France.

On March 25, 1945, Pfc. Matsuichi Yogi was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Headquarters European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, per Section 1, General Orders No. 45.  The award reads as follows:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi, Infantry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, as a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 36th Infantry Division, from 27 October 1944 to 29 October 1944.  Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi, during an enemy counterattack, daringly exposed himself and with his bazooka knocked out a German Mark IV tank.  Disregarding enemy sniper fire, he eliminated one of two German bazookas with his own weapon and knocked out the other one with accurate rifle fire.  On the second day, he scored a near hit on an enemy machine gun post, which enabled his platoon to overrun the position.  Private First Class Yogi’s fighting spirit and intrepid gallantry above and beyond the call of duty add living glory to the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.  His personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 36th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.  Entered military service from Hawaii.

For his military service, Private First Class Matsuichi Yogi was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, and Combat Infantryman Badge.  Matsuichi 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.

In 1948, the remains of Americans buried overseas began slowly to return to the US if the family so wished.  As a result, on April 21, 1949, Pfc. Matsuichi Yogi arrived home

The USAT Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton carried the remains of 134 men, arriving at Pier 40-A in Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin.  There were hundreds of family and friends present to attend the dockside service.  The Secretary of Hawaii, Oren E. Long, officiated, the 264th Army Band played Aloha Oe, and military Chaplains participated.  The caskets were stored in the Army mausoleum at Schofield Barracks pending final funeral arrangements.

Pfc. Matsuichi Yogi was reinterred on July 25, 1949, at 9:30 a.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii, Section D, Site 364.

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

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