Thomas Haruo Takahashi

Thomas Haruo Takahashi
Staff Sergeant
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, K Company

Thomas Haruo Takahashi was born on January 29, 1919, in Oakland, California, to Eijiro and Haru (Kanno) Takahashi.  Eijiro arrived in the US in 1901 at about age 22.  Haru Kanno arrived on the S.S. Mongolia on September 25, 1909, from the village of Asahi, Fukushima Prefecture.  Haru came to join her father, Hatsukichi Kwanna, who lived at 625 North Street in San Jose.  Eijiro and Haru married in 1912.  There were seven children in the Takahashi family:  Dorothy Noboku, Frank Minoru, George Yoshio, Tom Haruo, Agnes Eiko, Henry Takao, and Keiko Sarah (“Sally”).

Eijiro and Haru Takahashi, c. 1912

By 1918, Eijiro and his wife were living in Irvington, Alameda County, California, where he was a farm laborer employed by R.F. Driscoll.  In 1920, the family was living in Eden, Alameda County.  Eijiro and Haru were strawberry truck farmers.

In 1930 the family was living at the rear of 830 Pedro Street in San Jose, Santa Clara County.  Eijiro was a farm laborer and eldest child Dorothy was a strawberry picker.  Haru died in 1937.

By 1940, widowed father Eijiro was living with four of his children at 479 Singleton Avenue in San Jose and he was a farm laborer.  Haruo was living in Los Angeles.

Tom, as Haruo was known, signed his draft registration card on October 31, 1940, at Local Board No. 163, San Diego.    His address was 270 East 3rd Street in Los Angeles, although other addresses were written in and crossed out:  527 5th Avenue, and 522 Island Avenue in San Diego.  His point of contact was given as “lady at barber shop” at 522 Island Avenue.  He was employed on a boat named Anna K.  Tom was 5’5” tall and weighed 146 pounds.

Sometime in 1941, Tom married Misako, whose maiden name was also Takahashi.  She was born on April 11, 1922, in Clovis in California’s Central Valley.  In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Takahashi family was ordered to evacuate their home in the spring of 1942.  Tom and his wife reported directly to the Santa Anita WCCA Assembly Center.  They were incarcerated at the Colorado River WRA Relocation Center (also called Poston) in southwest Arizona – Tom on May 24 and Misako on August 27, 1942.  His father Eijiro and sister Agnes were also at Santa Anita and entered Poston on August 26 and 28, 1942, respectively.

Tom was drafted into the Army from Colorado River WRA internment camp.  He was inducted on July 15, 1943, at Fort Logan, Colorado.  His residence was given as Denver, he had completed high school, and his civilian occupation was listed as “Skilled mechanic/repairman of motor vehicles.”  Misako was not released until March 21, 1945, to Brighton, on the northern outskirts of Denver.

Takahashi was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to become part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Basic training for the new soldiers was from May 10 until August 23.  However, it continued longer to accommodate those arriving at various times from WRA internment camps.  Tom was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, K Company.

After a year of basic and specialized training and military exercises, Tom and the Combat Team left by train for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on April 22, 1944.  On May 2, the 442nd left nearby Hampton Roads in a convoy of over a hundred ships, and arrived at Naples, Italy, on May 28.

The battalion spent a week at a staging area in Bagnoli, near Naples, before leaving on LSTs for Anzio on June 6, where they marched five miles to a bivouac area.  From Anzio, the 442nd was trucked to a large bivouac area at Civitavecchia, north of Rome, where they went through additional training and final preparations for going to the front lines.  The 442nd entered combat on June 26 near Suvereto in the Rome-Arno Campaign.

Tom fought in all battles of the 442nd in Italy before the Combat Team left for France on September 27, 1944.  Once they arrived in Marseilles, they were in a bivouac area in nearby Septèmes until October 9, when they were transported north by rail boxcars and trucks to fight in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign in northeast France.  In October-November, the 442nd liberated the important road junction of Bruyères, followed by Belmont and Biffontaine and the famous “Rescue of the Lost Battalion” – the 1st Battalion of the 141st (Texas) Infantry Regiment – that had advanced beyond its support, become surrounded by the enemy, and was unable to extricate itself.

After several days of severe fighting, on October 30 the Lost Battalion was rescued.  It came at great loss for the 442nd, with very high casualties.  The initial objective of the Texas “lost battalion” had been to clear the Germans from the entire long ridge of mountain where it had become surrounded – and the 442nd’s 3rd Battalion was next ordered to push on down to the end of this ridge.

The fighting would go on until November 9.  The German line was completely shattered, but 442nd losses were so great that the Combat Team was temporarily ineffective as a fighting force.  They were sent to the south of France for fighting in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign.  This was mostly a defensive position guarding against incursion by the Germans over the border with Italy.

After several months, and replacements that arrived from training in the US, the Combat Team was back at combat strength.  They returned to Italy on March 20-22, 1945, for the Po Valley Campaign (without its 522nd Artillery, which was sent to Germany).  In the early part of April, the Combat Team set off in the mountainous area of the west coast of northern Italy with the mission of cracking the western anchor of the Gothic Line.  In what was ordered as a diversionary attack to draw off critical German army units from the Gothic Line center, the 442nd RCT rapidly crushed the German defenses, and continued on the attack, turning the planned diversion into a full-scale breakthrough of the vaunted Gothic Line, liberating the west of Italy all the way to Turin.

Above:  Sgt. Tom Takahashi on left outside Palazzo Bourdillon, used by the Germans as a prison.  The soldiers to his right are German Army soldiers who have been captured.  Photo courtesy of the Takahashi family.

Translation:  10 April 1945  Massa  Fifth Army – Sergeant Tom Takahashi, Company K, 442nd Infantry Regiment, escorted these German prisoners for two days from the mountain east of Massa to the prison yard.
31-337145-6269 – Foto Bull.  (Plaza Mercurio, Bourdillon Palace, old Commune seat)

During the last month of the campaign, Takahashi was wounded twice and taken to the aid station.  He sprained an ankle, either turning or twisting it, or slipping.  After treatment, he was released back to duty.  The other incident was more serious – when he was hit in the popliteal or back of his knee by artillery shrapnel.  The wound was lacerated, but no nerve or arterial involvement.  He was treated at the aid station and sent to Rome to recover in a hospital.  He was offered the opportunity to return to the US but chose to stay with his unit.

The war was over in Italy when the Germans surrendered on May 2, 1945.  Tom remained with the Combat Team during the occupation – when they performed such duties as processing and guarding former German soldiers, notably at Ghedi Airfield.  Later, the Combat Team was stationed on occupation duty in and around the Livorno area.

For his military service, Staff Sergeant Tom H. Takahashi was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation 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.

Takahashi returned to the US and was discharged from the Army on January 24, 1946, at Fort Logan, Colorado.  He enlisted in the ERC (Infantry) (Inactive) on April 6, 1948.

Tom had a professional career as an engineer in the nuclear weapons program at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, from 1949 to 1982.  After he retired, he moved back to Livermore, where he died on December 26, 2017.  He was buried at the IOOF Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Livermore.  He was survived by his wife, one son, two daughters, one granddaughter, and two grandsons.

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

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