Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, I Company
Takashi Ito, son of Denta and Yosoe (Yamakawa) Ito, was born on June 4, 1925, in Barr Lake, Colorado. He was the sixth of eight children: sons Lander Tadashi, Jack Minoru, Takashi N.; daughters Shizuko, Virginia Mitsuko, and Nancy Yuriko. (name of eldest child unknown). His father, Denta, emigrated in 1900. Both parents were from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. They were married on May 6, 1912, in Tacoma, Washington, the day that Yosoe arrived on the Seattle Maru.
Denta was working as a “day laborer” in 1900. In 1930, the family was living in Colorado and Denta operated a truck farm.
Takashi attended Hazeltine Elementary School and graduated with honors from Adams City High School in Adams County. He participated in baseball, football, basketball, and track. With a goal of becoming a pharmacist, he enrolled in the University of Colorado after high school.
Takashi registered for the draft on June 2, 1943, Local Board No. 25 at the Adams County Courthouse. He listed his brother, Lander Ito, as his contact and employer and the place of work was simply given as “farm.” They lived on Rt. 1 in Henderson, Adams County. He was 5’7” tall and weighed 130 pounds.
Takashi Ito was inducted into the U.S. Army on July 31, 1944, in Denver. This ended his short time at the University of Colorado.
He was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team where he went through basic and combat training before being transferred to the 442nd in France as a replacement. He arrived in December 1944, when the combat team was in need of more troops after the devastating losses incurred in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign in October and November. Takashi was assigned to 3rd Battalion, I Company, which had lost so many killed in action and wounded that they were no longer able to function. He had the relative calm and rest of the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, also known as the “Champagne Campaign,” to integrate into I Company. By March 1945, the 442nd was ready to get back into the final battles to defeat the Germans and bring the war in Europe to an end.
Takashi left with the 442nd for Italy from a staging area in Marseilles in relays on March 17, 18, and 19, arriving in Pisa on March 25. On March 28, the Combat Team left their Pisa staging area and moved to a bivouac at San Martino, near the walled city of Lucca. The move was made in absolute secrecy and under cover of darkness.
The Combat Team’s presence in Italy was a closely-kept secret as their mission was to attack the western anchor of the German’s Gothic Line, an elaborate system of fortifications hewn out of solid rock and reinforced with concrete. The attack by the 442nd was intended as a decoy, to cause the Germans to move key military forces to defend against the 442nd, weakening their line where the main Allied attack would occur. Climbing the mountains at night, on April 4 the Nisei soldiers surprised the Germans at dawn, rapidly capturing positions that had withstood Allied attacks for five months.
The 442nd quickly turned this successful decoy attack into a full-scale attack to break the German’s defenses on the western side of Italy. In combat in steep, high terrain, they pressed the attack on the Germans. On April 14, as they approached Mount Pizzacuto, north of Carrara, the Germans unleashed a fury of artillery. Although I Company was in reserve, they came under a heavy barrage. Ito was hit in his liver and thorax by multiple fragments from an artillery shell. He was taken to a field hospital where a thoracotomy was performed to remove the shrapnel. He died and was pronounced a battle casualty. The hospital record only states the date as April 1945. The Germans surrendered in Italy on May 2 and on May 7 to the Allies in Europe.
Takashi was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Granaglione, Plot E, Row 4, No. 618. His death date was given as April 22, 1945.
In the May 13, 1945, Fort Collins Coloradoan, his name appeared on the Army/Navy casualty list that was released the previous day. It listed him as “wounded.”
For his military service, Private First Class Takashi Ito was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, 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.
In 1948, the Army began the task of closing down most of the wartime cemeteries and giving the families the option of having their loved one returned home or reburied in a large cemetery, such as the one in Florence. The Ito family requested that Takashi be returned to the US. On November 29, 1948, Lander Ito ordered his brother’s government upright marble marker with the Christian cross. The order was verified on December 7 and shipped from Tate, Georgia, on December 20. Lander was living at 3040 Columbine Street in Denver. The tombstone order application gives Takashi’s date of death as April 22, 1945, rather than April 14.
Private First Class Takashi Ito was interred at the Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.