100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), C Company
Sadao Matsumoto was born on August 4, 1924, in Olaa, Puna District, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii. He was the son of Tokuichi and Asayo (Komatsu) Matsumoto. There were four children in the family: sons Sakae (died in 1937 at age 17) and Sadao; and daughters Sueko (died in 1945 at age 17) and Nancy Michiko. Two children were born before Sakae, but died in infancy.
Father Tokoichi arrived from Nukushima, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, on January 29, 1907, on the America Maru. Mother Asayo arrived on November 11, 1916, on the Shinyo Maru from Funakoshi via Nukushima. They were married shortly thereafter, on December 8, at the Hongwanji Mission in Honolulu prior to going home to Olaa. They both worked as sugar plantation laborers in Olaa and lived at 9 Mile Camp.
By 1930, the family had moved to Waimanalo on the windward side of Oahu. Tokoichi worked for the sugar plantation and they lived in New Camp, Block A.
Sadao played in the Waimanalo Sugar Company “midget” basketball league for young boys, their Cub Pack softball team, and their football team for 12-year-old boys.
In June 1939, Sadao graduated from 8th grade at Waimanalo Japanese School and from Waimanalo School. That summer, he played on the Nalo Yankees team for the Waimanalo Sugar Company’s inter-department softball league. He then attended Benjamin Parker High School in Kaneohe and, later, Honolulu Vocational School, where he studied mechanics.
By 1940, they lived in Block E of the plantation camp. Tokoichi was a ditch gang foreman and Sadao was a plantation laborer.
After graduating from high school in 1942, Sadao signed his draft registration card on October 12 at Local Board No. 5, at Royal School on Punchbowl Street. He was living at 1727 Fort Street and his point of contact was his father Tokuichi in Waimanalo. He was working for Wang Coffee Company on Smith and Beretania Streets. Sadao was 5’4” tall and weighed 134 pounds.
He worked for a while at Bellows Air Field, in Waimanalo.
Matsumoto enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 25, 1943. His occupation was given as “Unskilled routeman,” and he weighed 103 pounds. He was sent with other volunteers to the “tent city” known as Boom Town at Schofield Barracks. On March 28, he was among the other new soldiers at an aloha farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace.
The new soldiers, including Private Matsumoto, shipped out on the S.S. Lurline on April 4 to Oakland, California. Upon arrival, they were sent by train to the 442nd RCT at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where Sadao was assigned to I Company, 2nd Platoon. Basic training was conducted from May 10 to August 23; then began unit, specialized, and combat training. Field training was from December 13 to 24; and “D” series maneuvers began on January 28, 1944, at DeSoto National Forest, 30 miles south of Camp Shelby.
In early 1944, when volunteers were requested for the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), already in combat in Italy and under-strength due to high casualties, Private Matsumoto was among those 442nd men who volunteered.
He was in one of the three waves of 442nd replacements to the 100th and arrived at the Anzio beachhead in late March to early April (waves one and two) or late May (wave three). He was assigned to A Company. The beachhead had been smoldering since the 100th arrived on March 26. The opposing forces fenced and sparred, sending out patrols and raiding parties for prisoners and information. The Germans constantly kept the beachhead under fire, causing numerous casualties.
Finally, on May 24, the breakout from the beachhead began. The 100th was initially given the mission of protecting the right flank along the Mussolini Canal, with a frontage that reached 14,000 yards. The great drive rolled on until June 2, when the enemy put up a last-ditch effort around Lanuvio and La Torretto, creating a bulge in the 34th Division’s line. The 100th was tasked with reducing this bulge in the lines. A successful but intense 36-hour battle ensued, with the 100th suffering 15 killed and 63 wounded.
Private Matsumoto was severely wounded on June 2 in the battle for Lanuvio. He was taken to a field hospital and died there two days later – June 4, 1944.
Private Sadao Matsumoto was buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Nettuno, about 40 miles south.
For his World War II service, Private Sadao Matsumoto was awarded the following: Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge. He 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.
On June 16, 1944, at 2:00 p.m. the Matsumoto family held a memorial service for their son Sadao at the Waimanalo Catholic Church. On December 9, 1945, Sadao Matsumoto was among the 226 war dead honored at a memorial service held at 1:30 p.m. in the McKinley High School auditorium. Lt. General Robert C. Richardson Jr. gave the main address. The service was sponsored by the 100th Battalion Veterans Club, the 442nd RCT Veterans Club, the Women’s War Service Association, and the Emergency Service Committee.
In 1948, the US began to close many of the overseas military cemeteries. The next-of-kin of soldiers buried overseas were given the option of having their loved one reburied in one of the few cemeteries that would remain, or being returned home. The Miyamoto family chose to have their son brought home.
As a result, on April 21, 1949, Private Matsumoto arrived on the USAT Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton, one of 134 war dead, arriving at Pier 40-A in Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin. Hundreds of family and friends attended the dockside service. The Secretary of Hawaii, Oren E. Long, officiated. In his speech, he said that Hawaii is “proud to have such sons.” The 264th Army Band played Aloha Oe and hymns, 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.
On August 27, 1956, Private Sadao Matsumoto was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, Section G, Site 542.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2023.