Michio Gerard Kimura

Michio Gerard Kimura
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, M Company

Michio Gerard Kimura was born in Seattle, Washington, on July 1, 1918, to Kenji and Kikuno (Kaneshige) Kimura.  He had one older sister, Mieko Gloria.  His parents arrived from Naganoshi in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 1909 and Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1911, respectively.

In 1920, his father was employed as a bookkeeper for the Pacific American Fisheries in Ikaten, Alaska, although the family lived in Seattle.

In 1930, father Kenji was employed as Secretary at the Consulate of Japan in Seattle and mother Kikuno was a clerk in a dental office.  They lived at 2015 King Street.  In 1940, they were living at the same place and his sister and her husband Yonesaku Ota (a wholesale produce salesman) and sons Martin Eichi and Karl Wright Ota also lived with them.

Michio, known as “Mickey,” attended Garfield High School in Seattle and played on the freshman football team in 1935. 

Above:  Row 3, far right

After high school Mickey enrolled in the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle.  His name appears as a freshman, sophomore, and junior in Tyee, the UW yearbook, for 1940, 1941, and 1942 as a member of the Japanese (Students) Club.

On October 6, 1940, Kimura signed his draft registration card at Local Board No.9 in Field Artillery Armory in Seattle.  His parents were his points of contact.  He listed his employer as the University of Washington; and he was 5’4” tall and weighed 138 pounds.

In 1942, Mickey was among the 440 Japanese American students at the University of Washington who were removed due to the U.S. government forcibly evacuating persons of Japanese ancestry from the state.  Just prior to this order, he had been drafted into the U.S. Army.  After the 442nd was organized in January 1943, he was transferred to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for basic training.  He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, M Company.

At this same time, in May 1942, his parents and his sister and her family (husband and four young sons) were evacuated to the WCCA Assembly Center, called “Camp Harmony,” located at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.  On August 22, 1942, they were incarcerated at Minidoka War Relocation Center (internment camp) in Jerome, Idaho.

Brother-in-law Yonesaku Ota was released from Minidoka to Spokane, Washington, on February 28, 1944.  Gloria and their children (including a daughter who was born at Minidoka) were released to Spokane four months later on May 31.  After the war ended in 1946, his mother Kikuno was released to Spokane on August 25, and his father Kenji a few weeks later on September 15 to Seattle.

While his family was interned at Minidoka, Michio Kimura completed training with the 442nd.  He left Camp Shelby with the Combat Team on April 22, 1944, for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia.  They shipped out to Italy from Hampton Roads on May 2 in a convoy of over 100 ships.

After arriving at Naples on May 28, the 442nd entered combat near Suvereto on June 26.  After pushing the enemy north up the Italian peninsula for months, they were sent to France on September 27, 1944.  They fought in the Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaigns.  In the Vosges, they liberated the towns of Bruyères and Biffontaine.  This was followed by the rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” the 141st (Texas) Regiment that found itself surrounded on three sides by the enemy.  After devastating casualties, they were sent to the Maritime Alps.  Their mission there was to protect the southeast flank of the Sixth Army Group and guard against a possible enemy breakthrough down the southern coast of France.

In mid-March 1945, the 442nd was sent back to Italy for combat in the Po Valley Campaign.  They had successfully pushed the enemy north to Aulla by the time the war ended in Italy on May 2.  The 442nd  remained in Italy for occupation duties at Ghedi Airfield, Lecco, and then the Pisa-Livorno-Florence area.

After returning to the US, Kimura was discharged from the Army in December 1945.

For his military service, Pfc. Michio Gerard Kimura was awarded the following:  Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge with one oak leaf cluster, and Combat Infantryman Badge.  He 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.

After the war, Kimura was employed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) as a civilian contractor in Japan.  He married a Japanese citizen, Kazuko Yoneda, in 1950, and over the years they raised three children.

On August 30, 1954, Kimura sailed from Seattle on the troop ship USNS James O’Hara for Japan.  He was age 36 and living at 1820 Jackson Street in Seattle.  He arrived back in Seattle from Yokohama on the troop transport ship USS General W.A. Mann on November 13, 1955.  Travelling with him were his wife Kazuko and their young son and daughter.

After retirement from the DOD, he worked for The Boeing Company from 1966 to 1982.

In 2008, Kimura received an Honorary Baccalaureate degree from the University of Washington.  This was an effort by the University to make amends for the forced removal of their 440 Japanese American students in late May 1942.

Michio G. Kimura died on October 12, 2010, and was inurned with his wife, Kazuko, who predeceased him in 1997, in the Mausoleum at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue, near Seattle, on the lower level of Heritage Court.  He was survived by his three children and four grandchildren.

Kimura niche at Sunset Hills

Kimura’s name appears on the Nisei Veterans Committee Foundation’s Japanese American Memorial Wall in Seattle, Brick #1223, Column 25, Row 9.  It also appears on the Go For Broke Memorial in Los Angeles, Panel 12-A, Row 17.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021 and updated in 2023.

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