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 born of eight siblings. His father, Denta, immigrated in 1900. Both parents were from Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. They were married on May 6, 1912, in Tacoma, Washington. Denta was listed in the 1900 Federal Census as a “day laborer.” 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.
Takashi registered for the draft on June 2, 1943, with 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, Colorado. He was 5’7” tall and weighed 130 lbs.
Private First Class 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 Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, also known as the “Champagne Campaign,” to integrate into I Company. From March 20-22, the 442nd’s infantry units departed from Marseilles, France, heading for Italy where they would participate in the Po Valley Campaign.
In April 1945, the 442nd was part of the Allied forces pursuing the German Army north into the Po Valley. On April 13, as they approached Mount Pizzacuto, north of Carrara, the Germans unleashed a fury of artillery. Although I Company was in reserve, they too came under a heavy barrage. On April 14, 1945, 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.
He was initially buried at a U.S. Military Cemetery closest to the area where he was killed. Confusingly, his name appeared on an Army casualty list in a Colorado newspaper, dated May 13, as “Army wounded – Europe.”
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, and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Takashi Ito 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 of men killed in the Po Valley Campaign the option of having their sons 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 Fairmont Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
Katherine Baishiki/Virginia Ito, 7/7/02 (revised 5/1/03)
Original Biography prepared by Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance, and provided courtesy of Japanese American Living Legacy (http://www.jalivinglegacy.org/)
Researched and rewritten by 442nd S&D 6/01/2021.