Rodney Yoshinobu Miyamoto

Rodney Yoshinobu Miyamoto was born August 12, 1922, in Honomu, near Hilo, Hawaii, T.H., to Morikazu (“Dick”) and his wife Hawayo (Kimura) Miyamoto. Morikazu was born in Honomu (Kahepa Camp of Honomu Sugar Company) to immigrants Tamakichi and Momi (Manzoku) Miyamoto who arrived from the town of Niho, Aki District, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, in 1896 and 1897, respectively. Hawayo was born in Hilo to Otomatsu and Wasa (Tanaka) Kimura who immigrated from Hiroshima Prefecture in 1890. When Rodney was two years old, the family moved from Honomu to Hilo. Rodney was co-captain of the football team when he graduated from Hilo High School in 1941.

The family had moved to Honolulu by the time Rodney signed his WWII Draft Registration card on June 30, 1942, Local Board No. 7. They lived at 2014 Uhu Street and he was employed by Lumber Fabricating Company on Ward Street. He was 5’8-1/2”, 160 lbs. His point of contact was his father.

On March 25, 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His civilian occupation was carpenter apprentice. He was sent to Schofield Barracks and was among the nearly 2,000 soldiers who were given a community farewell ceremony in front of Iolani Palace on March 28. He shipped out on the SS Lurline with the rest of the 442nd RCT on April 2, arrived in San Francisco on April 9, and travelled by special train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training.

Rodney left with the 442nd from Hampton Roads, Virginia, in a convoy of ships to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations on May 2, 1944, arriving in Italy on May 28. The 442nd entered battle near Suvereto on June 26. In August he was admitted to the hospital for neuralgia from an old knee problem, but was returned to duty. Although the exact date in August was not in the record, it may have been during the early part of the month. At that time the 442nd was in a rest area near Vada, south of Livorno, after weeks of battle on the front lines and before the 3rd Battalion took a position on August 20 along the Arno River west of Florence.

Rodney served in all the campaigns of the 442nd in Italy (Rome-Arno), France (Vosges and Maritime Alps), and back to Italy (Po Valley). He was a mess sergeant for Company K in addition to being a rifleman.

Miyamoto arrived back in the U.S. on December 2, 1945, and then arrived in Honolulu on the troop ship USAT U.S. Grant with several hundred other returning veterans on January 22, 1946. This was the first arrival of veterans who were greeted by the Royal Hawaiian Band playing at Pier 40-B, and the community went all out for the men, with ladies’ groups bringing snacks and lei for the soldiers. Miyamoto was discharged on January 26 at the Army Separation Center on Oahu. He flew to Hilo for a reunion with extended family and friends from February 9-28, and was then back living with his parents on Uhu Street.

For his World War II service, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal, and American Campaign Service Medal. The Bronze Star Medal was awarded for exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy on or about July 18, 1944, in Italy in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. According to his family, he was eligible for a Purple Heart but declined it.

Rodney was an active member of the 442nd Veterans Club, and coach of their basketball team in the early post-war years. In 1947 he reenlisted in the U.S. Army and decided to make it a career. On May 21, 1949, Rodney married Violet Misae Matayoshi, a native of Puunene, Maui. They lived in Honolulu and had a family of three sons and two daughters. He served as a Sergeant First Class in Korea in 1955 with the 18th Transportation Company (Heavy Boat) in Inchon.

For his service in Korea, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Rifle Marksman Badge, United Nations Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal Clasp with two Bronze Loops. In his third reenlistment he earned a Letter of Appreciation and a Letter of Commendation.

Rodney Miyamoto retired from the U.S. Army on September 9, 1964, after over 20 years of Active Duty. At retirement, he had earned his third Good Conduct Medal and a 1st Oak Leaf Cluster on his National Defense Service Medal.

Violet Miyamoto died in 2004 and was inurned in Court 7, Wall D, Row 200, Site 203, in the Columbarium at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. On the plaque is inscribed Until We Meet in Heaven.

Rodney Y. Miyamoto died on February 18, 2021. He was predeceased by his wife, one son, and one daughter. Survivors include two sons, one daughter, nine grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was inurned with his wife at Punchbowl.

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