Tadashi Kojima

Tadashi Kojima
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, L Company

Tadashi Kojima was born on December 22, 1918, in Papaaloa, North Hilo District, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii.  His parents were Heisaburo and Sui (Toyama) Kojima.  Heisaburo arrived in Hawaii at age 15 on the Chiyo Maru on March 7, 1912, from the village of Kayana, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.  Sui Toyama arrived in Honolulu at age 17 on December 28, 1917, on the S.S. Persia from the same village of Kayana.  Heisaburo married Sui upon her arrival.

When father Heisaburo had arrived in Hawaii, he was bound for Papaaloa to join his parents Kurazo and Matsuno Kojima, who had earlier arrived from Niigata Prefecture in 1898 and 1903, respectively.  By 1917, Heisaburo was employed as a mule driver at the Laupahoehoe Sugar Company and was supporting his parents.  In April 1923, Kurazo and Matsuno Kojima left on the Tenyo Maru and returned to Japan.

Heisaburo died eight months later, in December 1923.  He left a young widow and four sons:  Tadashi (born 1918), Hiroshi (born 1920), Satoshi (born 1921), and Futoshi (born 1923).  Sui was looked after by her brother-in-law Kunie Kojima, who was born in Papaaloa.  They had four children together before they formally married in 1939:  Noriko (born 1926), Matsue (born 1927), Takashi (born 1930), and Misao Rebecca (born 1933).

By 1930, the family had moved to Oahu, where Kunie was a laborer on the Ewa (sugar cane) Plantation and they lived in the “A” Family Camp.  In October 1939, Tadashi was a player on the Ewa YMA basketball team, part of the Rural Oahu Japanese Senior League of the Japanese Athletic Union of Hawaii.

Kunie Kojima at Ewa Plantation

By 1940, the family was living in Ewa Plantation’s “D” Village.  Kunie worked in the plantation mill’s sugar room and the three sons also worked for the plantation – Tadashi in the irrigation department, Satoshi and Futoshi as tractor operators.  That April, Tadashi was on the Ewa YBA committee for their Lantern Festival Dance at the E.D. Tenney Center, in charge of prizes.  In July, he was a player on the Aggies C team, one of five teams of the Ewa inter-department softball league.

On October 26, 1940, Tadashi Kojima registered for the draft at Local Board No. 2, Waipahu Fire Station.  His point of contact was John Rogers Mead, his employer at Ewa Plantation Company.  He was 5’4” tall and weighed 115 pounds.

A few months later, on March 24, 1941, Tadashi was inducted into the U.S. Army and began basic training at Schofield Barracks along with 700 other Selective Service men.  Upon completion of basic training on June 23, Private Kojima was assigned to the 3rd Engineers, 395th Quartermaster Battalion, Company A, located at Fort Armstrong at Honolulu Harbor.

In March 1943, he was transferred as a volunteer to the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat Team at the “tent city” known as Boomtown at Schofield Barracks.  On March 28, Kojima attended the community farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace for the new soldiers.  The 442nd left on April 4 aboard the S.S. Lurline bound for Oakland and onward by train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, L Company.

After a year of training, on April 22, 1944, the 442nd departed Camp Shelby by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia.  On May 2, they departed from nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of over 100 troop ships bound for the Theater of War.

The 442nd arrived on May 28 at Naples, Italy, and went into bivouac at nearby Bagnoli.  On June 6, they left Naples on LSTs for Anzio – where they were trucked north around Rome, arriving on June 11 at a large bivouac at Civitavecchia.  After final preparations, Pfc. Kojima entered combat on June 26 with the 442nd RCT near Suvereto, in the Rome-Arno Campaign.

Following Suvereto, Pfc. Kojima fought in the following battles with 3rd Battalion as they pushed the Germans north along the western side of the Italian peninsula:  Belvedere on June 26, Sassetta on June 27, across the Cecina River to Hill 140 on July 2-5, Castellina on July 7, and Pomaja on July 8.

On July 12-13, 3rd Battalion stumbled and groped its way over the mountains to Pastina where it relieved the Combat Team’s 100th Battalion before dawn of the 13th.  It made excellent progress during the day, in position on the right of 2nd Battalion, meeting only light resistance.  The 3rd Battalion overran the village of San Luce behind a barrage by the Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion.  On July 14, 3rd Battalion advanced rapidly throughout the morning.  During the afternoon, enemy artillery fire became heavier, and 3rd Battalion ran into a violent firefight on the outskirts of Lorenzano.

Pfc. Tadashi Kojima was hit by enemy shells during this artillery barrage.  He was evacuated to the field hospital near Lorenzano where he was listed as “died in combat” after being wounded by artillery shells/fragments in the posterior thoracic wall.  He was buried at nearby Follonica American Cemetery, Section H, Row 89, Grave 1067, 50 miles southeast of Livorno.

On August 13, 1944, the Kojima family held a Memorial Service at Ewa Union Church at 2:00 p.m.  Rev. John D. Beck officiated at the service.

In a September 1944 letter, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson notified Mrs. Kojima that her son was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.  He also noted:

Little that we can do or say will console you for the death of your loved one.  We profoundly appreciate the greatness of your loss, for in a very real sense the loss suffered by any of us in this battle for our country is a loss shared by all of us…I want you to know that with it [themedal] goes my sincerest sympathy, and the hope that time and the victory of our cause will finally lighten the burden of your grief.

For his World War II service, Private First Class Tadashi Kojima was awarded the:  Bronze Service Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, 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.

On December 9, 1945, Pfc. Kojima and all Oahu war dead were memorialized in a Memorial Service at the McKinley High School auditorium at 2:00 p.m.  It was hosted by the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Women’s War Service Association, and Emergency Service Committee.  The keynote speaker was Lieutenant General Robert C. Richardson Jr., commander of the U.S. Army in the Central Pacific Area.

Pfc. Kojima was memorialized on May 28, 1948, with the ten Ewa soldiers killed in the war in a Memorial Service at Ewa Community Church, sponsored by the Ewa Veterans Club, with the Reverend John D. Beck officiating.

On March 4, 1949, the new Ewa War Memorial building was dedicated in memory of the Ewa men who were killed in World War II.  The plaque on the front of the building bears the name of Tadashi Kojima.  The building contains six bowling alleys and is located next to Tenney Recreation Center.  The people of Ewa raised the construction funds of $52,000.

After the war, the US began a program of consolidating the numerous overseas wartime cemeteries.  As a result, the families of soldiers buried overseas were given the option of having their loved one returned to the US or reburied in one of the few wartime cemeteries to remain.  On July 11, 1949, Pfc. Kojima’s flag-draped casket was among the 34 who arrived from Europe on the U.S.S. Capt. Arlo L. Olson at Kapalama Basin at 9:00 a.m., the sixth ship carrying Hawaii war dead home.  A dockside memorial service was held before a throng of family and friends.  The caskets were taken to the Army mausoleum at Schofield Barracks awaiting burial arrangements.

On August 10 at 3:00 p.m., Pfc. Tadashi Kojima was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, in Section D, Grave 253.

Brothers Hiroshi and Futoshi served in the U.S. Army and are buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with assistance by the family in 2024.

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