Minoru Hirozawa

Minoru Hirozawa
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
522nd Field Artillery Battalion, Service Battery

Minoru Hirozawa was born on March 15, 1921, at New Mill, in Eleele, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii.  His parents were Masaichi and Sada (Ueda) Hirozawa, who emigrated from the village of Tanna, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.  Masaichi arrived on August 21, 1910, and Sada arrived on October 2, 1917.  There were ten children in the family:  sons Shurei, Minoru, Stanley Tariho, and Henry Takao; and daughters Edith Fumiko, Charlotte Yukie, Doris Michie, Florence Hisae, Janet Teruko, and Lois Midori.

In 1930, the family lived in Eleele and father Masaichi worked at the McBryde Sugar Company mill as a helper in the sugar boiler department.  In 1938, Minoru was elected Secretary of the Student Body at Waimea High School.

In 1940, the family lived in Camp B, New Mill, part of Wahiawa, Kauai.  Father Masaichi was a cook for the sugar plantation and Minoru was a field laborer.

Minoru had moved to Oahu by the time he signed his draft registration card on February 4, 1942, Local Board No. 3, corner of King and Punahou Streets.  His point of contact was his older brother Shurei in Eleele, and he was 5’5” tall and weighed 120 pounds.  He lived at 1239 South King Street and was employed by John F. Nichols, 2122 North King Street.  His place of work was Camp Ulupau, a wartime coastal artillery base on the eastern portion of Mokapu Peninsula on the windward side of Oahu.  The land later became part of Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station.

Hirozawa enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1943, at which time he had finished one year of college at the University of Hawaii and his civilian occupation was given as “carpenter.”  He was among the group of new soldiers given a community farewell at Iolani Palace on March 28.  On April 4 they sailed on the S.S. Lurline with the other new soldiers as they headed for Oakland, California.  After debarking on the mainland and a train trip across the US, they arrived on April 18 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training.  Hirozawa was assigned to Service Battery of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.

After nearly a year of basic, specialized, and combat training and maneuvers, Hirozawa left by train with the 442nd for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  The Combat Team sailed on May 2 for the Theater of War from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of about 100 ships.  The 522nd was on the troop transport S.S. Johns Hopkins and landed on the east coast of Italy at Brindisi and Bari.  On May 28, they were sent on the 2-day trip by rail boxcars to Naples where the rest of the 442nd also arrived that day.

The Battalion was at Staging Area No. 4 in Bagnoli, a bivouac near Naples, until June 6, when they sailed on LST 526 for the overnight trip to Anzio.  Upon arrival, they climbed over the side and down on rope nets to the heaving swells below.  From Anzio, on June 9 they were sent in a midnight truck convoy around the newly liberated city of Rome to a large bivouac at Civitavecchia.  On June 11, the 522nd left the rest of the Combat Team and went to a bivouac near Tarquinia, 15 miles north.  For the next week, the men were issued day passes to Rome.  On June 21, as the Combat Team was preparing to move to the front lines, the 522nd moved 60 miles north to a forward assembly area near Grosseto, and two days later to yet another forward area 20 miles north at Gavarrano.  On June 24, the 522nd men sighted their first enemy plane and began digging foxholes for protection.  On June 25, the 522nd relieved elements of the 36th Infantry Division near Follonica.  This action was described as “grinding its way up narrow, winding mountain roads and occupying positions in the vicinity of Suvereto at 0420 hours on June 26.”

The 442nd RCT entered combat near Suvereto, about 60 miles north of Rome, on June 26, in the Rome-Arno Campaign.  The 522nd fought in support of the infantry, notably at Rosignano, Castellina, Hill 140, and the crossing of the Cecina River.  Their effectiveness in their “time fire” delivery of artillery (shells set to burst 20 yards in air above the target) was especially notable at Hill 140, where 4,544 rounds were fired in a 24-hour period.

After driving the enemy north to the Arno River, on September 6 the 442nd was pulled from the lines and sent south to the port of Piombino, 14 miles from Suvereto.  From Piombino they sailed to Naples on September 11.  The 522nd sailed in the U.S.S. Richard K. Call, while the vehicles of the 522nd were driven to Naples by motor convoy.  On September 27, they sailed on the U.S.S. Thurston from Naples to France.  Upon arrival near Marseilles, they were transferred to LSIs (similar to LSTs) and landed on the beach in high seas, rain, wind, and mud.  The next day, they were sent by rail boxcars and motor convoy to Battalion Area No. 51, a bivouac near Septèmes.  During the 10-day stay in their bivouac, day passes to Marseilles were issued and men also helped unload cargo at the port.

The 522nd fought in support of the 442nd during the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.  They left Septèmes by motor convoy on October 9 for the nearly 500-mile trip north to the Vosges Mountains.  After two overnight halts, they arrived at the Seventh Army assembly near Pouxeux on October 11.  Going to two more assembly areas closer to the front, the attack began in the vicinity of Bruyères on October 14.

Hirozawa was in combat during the bitter fighting to liberate the important rail and road junction of Bruyères, neighboring Biffontaine and Belmont, and the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 1st Battalion, 141st (Texas) Infantry that had advanced beyond the lines and was surrounded on three sides by the enemy.  Prior to the rescue of the 141st, the 522nd “saved” them by correctly questioning the 36th Division commander on his firing orders.  The 522nd forward observers noted that the firing coordinates were in the middle of the Lost Battalion’s position – so the coordinates were changed.

The weather was cold, wet, snowy, and miserable, as the men fought in the heavily wooded forests still in their summer uniforms.  They were subjected to living in foxholes, and incoming artillery raining down on them in “tree bursts.”  Many 442nd soldiers, including Henry Ishida, contracted trench foot during these terrible weather conditions in the Vosges.

After the fierce fighting in the Vosges, the 442nd was at half-strength due to high casualties, and was sent to the south of France.  There, they could rebuild to full combat strength while fighting in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign.

The 522nd left the lines on November 17 and moved to an assembly area near Cheniménil, 8 miles southwest of Bruyères, and arrived near Nice on the Mediterranean coast on November 21.

The Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign was mostly a defensive position guarding the French-Italian border from attack by the German army in Italy.  This was also called the “Champagne Campaign,” as the men were given passes to Nice on the French Riviera.  While there, the 522nd was mostly stationed in Sospel and, later, Menton.  The drive to Sospel was 45 miles from the coast up steep, winding, and narrow mountain roads.  Hirozawa and Service Battery were stationed at the Battalion rest area on the outskirts of Nice.

In the Maritime Alps, Minoru was in the supply section on the ration crew, and had to deliver hot meals every day, usually from Nice or Cannes on the coast, to the forward battery positions up in the mountains in the area of Sospel.  This required the ration crew to leave early in the morning and navigate 22 hairpin turns on a very narrow road, often exposed to German artillery fire.  The crews did not return down the mountain until very late at night.  Minoru headed one of these crews every other day for four months

The time in France ended when the 442nd RCT was sent back to Italy on March 22-25, 1945, for combat in the Po Valley Campaign.  Commanders of the Fifth Army and the Seventh Army fought among themselves for the privilege of having the 522nd assigned to their commands in Italy or Germany.  As it turned out, the 522nd Battalion was detached and sent to Germany for combat with the Seventh Army in the Central Europe Campaign, adding firepower to its assault on the Siegfried Line.

The 522nd left Menton on March 9 and drove 500 miles north, arriving on March 12.  They crossed the Saar River into Germany at Kleinbittersdorf.  For the next two weeks, the Battalion supported a breakthrough of the Siegfried Line, captured a German 150mm howitzer and used it against the enemy, supported the 45th Infantry Division’s crossing of the Rhine River near Worms, and captured 21 prisoners.  The 522nd crossed the Rhine River in the middle of the night on March 27 and 28 on a treadway pontoon bridge.

The Battalion chased the retreating German army across the country, becoming a roving artillery unit known for its shooting speed, pinpoint accuracy, and quickness in setting up and taking down for movement to the next place.  During its time in Germany, the Battalion was attached to four different Divisions, made 52 displacements, and fired 15,219 rounds on the enemy.

Later, elements of the 522nd liberated one of the sub-camps of Dachau concentration camp and were in the area where the former inmates were roaming in search of food.

Above: Hirozawa (right) with his good friend Henry Ishida in Baumenheim, 1945

In the months after V-E Day in May 1945, Hirozawa was stationed during the occupation with other Service Battery men in Baumenheim, near Donauworth, Germany.  They served as guards and security, especially as Baumenheim was a train stop town.

Minoru arrived home to Honolulu with hundreds of other returning veterans on the USAT U.S. Grant on January 22, 1946, at Pier 40-B in Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin.  In addition to family and friends there to greet them, the Royal Hawaiian Band played music on the pier and the USO served pineapple juice and cookies.  He was discharged on January 26 at an Army Separation Center on Oahu.

For his World War II service, Pfc. Minoru Hirozawa was awarded:  the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal.  On October 5, 2010, Minoru Hirozawa – and all the servicemen of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team – was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest Congressional Civilian Medal.

A few months after his discharge from the Army, Minoru sailed on the S.S. Mariposa on August 18.  He arrived at San Francisco and went on to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he enrolled in Indiana Technical College.  After graduating in 1949, he returned home and worked as an engineer’s aide for the Territorial Department of Public Works.  About this time, he introduced his best friend, Henry Ishida, to his sister Doris – and they married, so the best friends became brothers-in-law.

Betty Sakai Hirozawa, 1950

In 1950, Minoru was living at 803 Wiliwili Street with two Service Company buddies – Tokushi Tanaka and Edward Kanazawa.  He was working as a civil engineer for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.  A few months later, he married Betty Kiyuno Sakai on November 4, 1950, in Honolulu.  His good friends from Service Company, Henry Ishida and Tokushi Tanaka, were ushers at their wedding.

On March 13, 1952, Minoru was licensed as a certified engineer by the Hawaii Board of Registration for Professional Engineers, Architects, and Land Surveyors, after successfully passing the examination.  A couple of months later, he and his wife moved to a house they built on Aholehole Street, Wailupe, just east of Honolulu.  Over the years, they raised one daughter and one son.  Minoru was active in the 442nd Veterans Club, 522B Chapter.  On July 18, 1974, Minoru was among the Department of Transportation employees honored at the Annual Awards Banquet held at Pier 8.  He was presented a Special Recognition Award.

Minoru Hirozawa died on December 22, 1996, in Honolulu.  He was inurned at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in the Columbarium at CT3-K, Row 300, Site 335.  He was survived by his wife, two children, and three grandchildren.

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

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