Sadamu Koito

Sadamu Koito
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, K Company

Sadamu Koito was born on July 7, 1919, in Wailuku, Maui, Territory of Hawaii.  He was the son of Hinaichi and Naka (Minoda) Koito.  He had five siblings:  brothers Noboru, Isamu, and Raymond Masashi; and sisters Mitsuko, Harue, Hinae, and Akiko.  His parents emigrated from the village of Kawachi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, arriving on the French steamer, S.S. Amiral Fourichon, on January 12, 1908.  They both worked for the sugar plantation, and by 1918, Hinaichi was self-employed as a carpenter.

Sadamu was educated at Wailuku Elementary and Intermediate Schools and Maui High School.  In March 1934, he was one of seven Future Farmers of America (FFA) members from Wailuku to attend the annual Hawaii convention in Hilo on Hawaii island.  In April 1935, he was among the 593 young men who attended the Hawaiian Association of the FFA annual convention at Kalakaua Intermediate School in Honolulu.  For their public-speaking contest, he gave a speech entitled, “Vocational Education in Agriculture as an Educational Proposal for Hawaii.”  In May 1940, he was elected Treasurer of the Maui Christian Endeavor Union, and was a member of the Wailuku Japanese Christian Church.

In 1940, Sadamu was living with his widowed father and brothers to the rear of Vineyard Street in Wailuku.  His father and brother Noboru were employed by the Maui Record newspaper as printers, and Sadamu worked at the sugar mill.  His youngest brother Raymond Masashi had been adopted as a child by Nagakatsu Kumao Otsuka, publisher of the Maui Record newspaper from 1916 to 1941.

He registered for the draft on October 26, 1940, at Local Board No. 2 in Wailuku.  In addition to working for Wailuku Sugar, he also was a farmer in Kula, upcountry Maui.  He was 5’6” tall and weighed 125 pounds.

Before entering the service, Koito was employed as an agriculturist‘s assistant at the Wailuku Sugar Company.

Sadamu Koito enlisted in the U.S. Army at Wailuku on March 24, 1943.  He was sent to the “tent city” at Schofield Barracks with the other volunteers.  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 Oakland, California.

After a train trip across the US, they arrived at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  Sadamu was assigned to 3rd Battalion, K Company.

Following about a year of basic, unit, specialized training and field maneuvers, the 442nd left Camp Shelby by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  They shipped out to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in a large convoy of about 100 ships on May 2 and arrived at Naples, Italy, on May 28.

Sadamu participated in the Rome-Arno Campaign, entering combat near Suvereto on June 26.  By July 16, they were in the vicinity of the hilltop town of Luciana.  The Germans were resisting heavily.  K Company made a frontal assault on the town.  On this day, Sgt. Koito was wounded in the leg by a rifle bullet on July 16, 1944, and sent to a field hospital for care.  He was discharged and returned to duty with his unit in August.

Koito was with the 442nd as they were sent to Marseilles, France, on September 27, to join in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign.

The Combat Team was moved from the staging area in Septèmes, just outside Marseilles, on October 10 by truck or rail boxcars north to the Vosges Mountains.  They arrived in the assembly area at Charmois-devant-Bruyères at midnight on October 13.  At 2:00 p.m. the next day, they began moving into position to attack the important rail and road center of Bruyères the following morning.  After several days of intense fighting, the enemy had been cleared from the town and its surrounding hills, and on October 23, the 442nd was ordered to take the next town, Biffontaine.  Finally, on October 24 they were taken off the front lines and put in reserve in nearby Belmont for a rest after eight days of heavy fighting, little to no sleep, harsh weather conditions, and many casualties.

On the afternoon of October 26, the short rest was abruptly ended when the 442nd was ordered to go into the lines the next morning and fight through to rescue the “Lost Battalion,” the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Infantry Regiment.  After moving too fast and over-reaching its support, they had become surrounded on three sides by the enemy and were unable to extricate themselves.  The 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 141st Infantry Regiment had tried to rescue them along with other units, but were thrown back each time they attacked.

The 442nd’s 3rd Battalion moved out at 4:00 a.m. on October 27.  The men were forced to march in column, with each man holding on to the pack of the man in front of him, as they could not see each other in the darkness.  By 2:00 p.m. they were in line with the other two infantry battalions of the 442nd.  The attack moved slowly and encountered heavy resistance from enemy infantry and incessant mortar concentrations.  At 3:30 p.m. Koito’s K Company was counterattacked by a tank and a half-track, followed by enemy infantry.  The fighting was severe.  After one 442nd soldier took out the tank with his bazooka, the enemy infantrymen pulled back in the early twilight.  The 3rd Battalion made no attempt to follow up due to the pitch darkness.

All units resumed the attack on the morning of October 28, with resistance as fierce as ever.  Third Battalion encountered a series of manned roadblocks in its advance up the hill, and K Company was stopped by enemy fire from several machine guns, riflemen, and grenadiers.  It was on this day that Sergeant Sadamu Koito was killed by an artillery shell in the battle to take the high ground from the Germans.

Sergeant Sadamu Koito was interred in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Epinal, France.  This cemetery is located in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains about 21 miles from where Koito died.

For his military service, Koito was awarded:  the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal with one oak leaf cluster, 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.  Sadamu was posthumously 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.

During the first week of May 1945, Sgt. Koito’s Purple Heart Medal was posthumously presented to his father Hinaichi Koito of 56 Moani Place by Lt. Col. Murray B. Crandall, Maui District Commander, at a ceremony in Wailuku.  The next of kin of four other Maui soldiers also received their loved one’s medal at this ceremony.

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, Sadamu arrived home.  The USAT Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton brought back 134 men, arriving at Pier 40-A Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin.  There were hundreds of family and friends present to attend the dockside service.  Secretary of Hawaii Oren E. Long officiated, the 264th Army Band played, and military Chaplains participated.  One of the Chaplains was Hiro Higuchi, who had served in the 442nd with the men who were returning home that day.  The flag-draped caskets were stored in the Army mausoleum at Schofield Barracks pending funeral arrangements by the family.

Sergeant Sadamu Koito’s remains were shipped to Maui and he was reinterred in the Maui Veterans Cemetery at Makawao.

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

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