Richard Masao Aburamen
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
2nd Battalion, F Company
Masao Aburamen was born on August 14, 1919, in Waiakea, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii, to Kanichi and Hatsuno (Mukai) Aburamen. He was the eldest of five sons: Masao, Yuichi, Hiroshi, Sarai, and Noboru. Kanichi emigrated from the village of Nagatsuka, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, arriving on the Tenyo Maru on November 2, 1911, at Honolulu. Hatsuno was born in Olaa, Hawaii island, and her father was from Hiroshima Prefecture. Kanichi and Hatsuno were married on August 13, 1918, in Hilo.
Kanichi initially worked as an auto mechanic for the Volcano Auto Shop in Hilo. In 1930, he was a salesman in a general merchandise store. By 1940, he was operating a wholesale/retail business selling poultry feed, eggs, and butter, and doing home dairy delivery. He was also operating tours for the Honolulu-based C. O. Yee Hop Island Tours.
Masao attended Hilo Intermediate School, and graduated from Wailoa High School, where he was active in football and baseball. Prior to the war, Masao was a salesman for his father’s wholesale and retail produce business. He signed his draft registration card on October 26, 1940, at Local Board No. 2 in Hilo. He listed his father as his point of contact. At the time, Masao was 5’5” tall and weighed 120 pounds.
Masao enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 18, 1943. His civilian occupation was listed as “bookkeeper & cashier.” He was one of 116 Hilo volunteers honored at a rally in Hilo’s Mooheau Park prior to the enlistment ceremony. He was sent along with the other volunteers to Schofield Barracks on Oahu to the “tent city” known as Boom Town. On March 28, they were given a community farewell at Iolani Palace. On April 4, they sailed on the S.S. Lurline to San Francisco. After a train trip across the US, they arrived at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training.
Masao was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, F Company. After over a year of basic and specialty training and field maneuvers, he and the 442nd left Camp Shelby on April 22, 1944, by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. They shipped out to Europe on May 2, 1944, from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of over 100 ships.
Once they arrived in the Mediterranean, the ship that carried most of the 2nd Battalion left the convoy and headed for port in Oran, Algeria. After offloading cargo, they rejoined the regiment at Naples, Italy, on June 17. The rest of the 442nd had arrived on May 28 and was by then in bivouac at nearby Bagnoli. Second Battalion followed the same route. They then went by LSTs to Anzio and were trucked around Rome to a larger bivouac near Civitavecchia, about fifty miles north.
On June 26, 1944, the 442nd RCT moved forward to the front lines for their first combat engagement. After driving the enemy north to the Arno River, the Combat Team was pulled from the lines and sent to Naples for shipment to France, to fight in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign. They arrived at Marseilles on September 29 after a 2-day voyage, and bivouacked at nearby Septèmes prior to traveling over 500 miles north by truck or rail boxcars to the Vosges.
Aburamen was in combat for the next month 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. 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.”
After the fierce fighting in the Vosges, the 442nd was now at half strength, and was sent to the south of France. There, they could rebuild to full combat strength while participating in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, which was mostly a defensive position guarding the French-Italian border from attack by the German Army in Italy. The 442nd was there from November 23, 1944, until March 15, 1945, when they were relieved and moved in relays to the new staging area at Marseilles. On March 20-22, the 442nd (without its 522nd Field Artillery Battalion who were sent to Germany) left France to fight in the Po Valley Campaign for the final push to defeat the Nazis in Italy. They arrived at the Peninsular Base Section in Pisa on March 25 and were assigned to Fifth Army.
The objective of the 442nd was to execute a surprise diversionary attack on the western anchor of the German Gothic Line. This elaborate system of fortifications had been attacked in the fall of 1944, but no one had yet been able to pry the Germans loose from the western end. The Gothic Line in this area was hewn out of solid rock, reinforced with concrete, and constructed to give all-around protection and observation. The Germans were dug into mountain peaks rising almost sheer from the coastal plain, bare of vegetation save for scanty scrub growth.
The Combat Team left their initial staging area and moved to a bivouac at San Martino, near the walled city of Lucca. Starting on April 3, the 442nd conducted a surprise attack on the Germans at Mount Folgorito. By April 6 the 2nd Battalion had gained the ridge of Mount Folgorito and was poised for an attack on Mount Carchio and Mount Belvedere to the north, the peak that looked down on the city of Massa. By noon, F Company had reduced Mount Carchio while the rest of the 2nd Battalion began working on the wide, rolling top of Mount Belvedere, which was defended by the veteran troops of the crack Machine Gun Battalion Kesselring. The enemy battered the 442nd attackers with a steady stream of mortar fire, to no avail, and were defeated.
After these battles, the 442nd moved farther north, finally taking Aulla on April 25, penetrating as far north as Torino. The 442nd’s diversionary attack was relentlessly pursued by the Combat Team, resulting in a complete breakthrough of the Gothic Line in the west. Despite orders from Hitler to fight on, the German forces in Italy surrendered on May 2, 1945, a week before the rest of the German forces in Europe surrendered. Aburamen was with the 442nd while in occupation at Ghedi Airport guarding and processing German prisoners, the move to Lecco, and the return to the Livorno/Pisa/Florence area on July 12 for further guard duty.
For his military service, Private First Class Masao Richard Aburamen was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge with three oak leaf clusters, 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.
Masao arrived back in Hawaii from the war on January 23, 1946, on the U.S. Army Transport Ship USAT U.S. Grant. They arrived at Pier 40-B and were greeted by the Hawaiian Royal Band and a throng of family and friends. The men went to Fort Kamehameha for discharge from the Army.
Yaeko Shigeoka Aburamen in the 1970s
Masao died May 27, 1989, in Hilo and was buried in East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery No. 2, Plot B-17-02. His wife, Yaeko, died on January 22, 2010, and was buried next to him. They were survived by one son, their daughter, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Masao’s brothers served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team: Pfc Yuichi Aburamen in 3rd Battalion, M Company, and Pfc Hiroshi Aburamen in the Anti-Tank Company.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2020, and updated in 2023.