Thomas Tokuyoshi Miyamoto
Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
100th Battalion, C Company
Thomas Tokuyoshi Miyamoto was born on May 26, 1915, in Wanini, Hanalei, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii. He was the son of Zenkichi and Ura (Kubo) Miyamoto. There were five children in the Miyamoto family: James Kazuro, William Shigeharu, Thomas Tokuyoshi, Kimiko, and Mildred Matsuko.
Zenkichi emigrated in 1891 with his first wife, also named Ura, on the Yamashiro Maru, arriving on June 18. They had no children. After she died, he married Ura Kubo upon her arrival on the S.S. Manchuria on March 22, 1909. She was from the village of Gamano, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Zenkichi was a deep-sea fisherman.
In 1920, the family lived on Kalihikai Road in the Wanini area of Hanalei. By 1930, he had died and his widow had married Takemashita Sato, a rice farmer. They lived in Hanalei with her sons James and William. Thomas was living in Honolulu where he attended Central Intermediate School.
By 1940, William, Thomas, and Mildred were living in Honolulu at 31 Hialoa Road. Thomas had graduated from Central Intermediate School and begun working as a salesman at B.K. Yamamoto Hardware store rather than attending high school.
On October 26, 1940, Thomas signed his draft registration card, Local Board No. 5, Room 212, Tax Office Building. He listed his brother, William S., as his point of contact at 31 Hialoa Road. Thomas was 5’1-1/2” tall and weighed 110 pounds.
Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 25, 1943. He was sent to the “tent city” known as Boom Town at Schofield Barracks with other volunteers. On May 28, 1943, they were given an aloha farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace. On April 4, the new soldiers sailed on the S.S. Lurline for Oakland, California.
From Oakland, they were sent by train across the US to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where Thomas was assigned to 3rd Battalion, I Company. 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 understrength due to high casualties, Private Miyamoto was among those 442nd men who volunteered. The exact date of his arrival in Italy is not known. There were three waves of 442nd replacements to the 100th. The first two waves arrived in Italy and were with the 100th in time to fight in its breakout from the Anzio beachhead on May 23. The third wave arrived at Anzio the following day.
After the breakout from Anzio, the 100th fought in the drive on to Rome. They were ordered to stop just a few miles short and were sent in a truck convoy through the liberated city on June 5 to Civitavecchia, about 60 miles north.
At the large bivouac area at Civitavecchia, they met up with the newly arrived 442nd. Preparations to enter combat together were underway.
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) entered combat together on June 26, 1944, near Suvereto, in the Rome-Arno Campaign.
After driving the enemy north to the Arno River, they were pulled from the lines and sent to Naples for shipment to France, where they joined in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign. They arrived at Marseilles on September 29 after a 2-day voyage, and bivouacked at nearby Septèmes prior to traveling over 500 miles north by truck or rail boxcars to the Vosges.
Miyamoto was in combat for the next month during the bitter fighting to liberate the important rail junction of Bruyères, neighboring Biffontaine and Belmont, and the “Rescue of the Lost Battalion,” the 1st Battalion, 141st (Texas) Infantry that had advanced beyond the lines and was surrounded on three sides by the enemy. The weather was cold, wet, snowy, and miserable, as the men fought in the heavily wooded forests still in their summer uniforms. They were subjected to living in foxholes, and incoming artillery raining down on them in “tree bursts.”
After the fierce fighting in the Vosges, the 442nd was at half-strength due to many casualties, and was sent to the south of France. There, they could rebuild to full combat strength while fighting in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, which was mostly a defensive position guarding the French-Italian border from attack by the German army in Italy. The 442nd was there from November 23, 1944, until March 15, 1945, when they were relieved and moved in relays to the new staging area at Marseilles.
On March 20-22, the 442nd (without its 522nd Field Artillery Battalion who were sent to Germany) left France to fight in the Po Valley Campaign for the final push to defeat the Nazis in Italy. They arrived at the Peninsular Base Section in Pisa on March 25 and were assigned to Fifth Army.
The objective of the 442nd was to execute a surprise diversionary attack on the western anchor of the German Gothic Line. This elaborate system of fortifications had been attacked in the fall of 1944, but no one had yet been able to pry the Germans loose from the western end. The Gothic Line in this area was hewn out of solid rock, reinforced with concrete, and constructed to give all-around protection and observation. The Germans were dug into mountain peaks rising almost sheer from the coastal plain, bare of vegetation save for scanty scrub growth.
The Combat Team left their initial staging area and moved to a bivouac at San Martino, near the walled city of Lucca. Starting at 7:45 p.m. on April 3, the 442nd began its surprise attack on the Germans at Mount Folgorito, when the 100th and 3rd Battalions moved to forward assembly areas under cover of darkness. The 100th moved to the vicinity of Vallecchia and the 3rd to Azzano. The next day, both battalions remained hidden in houses and olive groves.
During the night of April 4, the 100th moved up its line of departure to the hill mass that the 442nd had named “Florida,” where they relieved the 371st Infantry. This hill was the southernmost in a series of sawtooth hills ending at Mount Folgorito to the north. The other hills were called “Georgia,” “Ohio 1, 2, and 3,” and Mt. Cerreta.
The 3rd Battalion began its attack at 6:00 a.m. on April 5, after a silent 8-hour climb up Mt. Folgorito overnight.
The 100th attacked on April 5 at 5:00 a.m. after a tremendous 10-minute artillery shelling on enemy positions. Their first objective was Georgia, a knob of solid rock with at least 15 enemy-manned gun emplacements. It had been shelled and attacked over the previous five months, but never taken.
In 20 minutes, the 100th Battalion had gained the crest of Georgia. This, along with 3rd Battalion’s taking of Mt. Folgorito, meant that it took the 442nd just 32 minutes to accomplish a mission that had resisted the best efforts of friendly troops for five months.
However, as the 100th moved down the reverse slopes of Georgia to attack Ohio 1, the enemy threw heavy concentrations of mortar and artillery fire at them. And enemy machine guns in bunkers on the forward slopes of Ohio 1 pinned the attackers to the ground. Finally, the 100th soldiers were forced to filter through the heavy fire and close in enough to attack with their hand grenades. The battle raged fiercely all day on April 5, as each bunker had to be approached and destroyed one by one. At midnight, the enemy mounted a strong counter-attack, and after an hour-long firefight at close quarters, they finally fell back.
Although April 5 was a day of heavy losses for the Germans, the 100th lost 20 men killed and 123 wounded.
Pfc. Thomas Tokuyoshi Miyamoto was killed this day, April 5, 1945. The field hospital admission card states that he was hit by artillery shell and shrapnel and that he lost his leg as a result. He was given a transfusion before he died. Pfc. Miyamoto was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Castelfiorentino, about 67 miles south.
Thomas had written his last letter to his brother William a short time before his death. In the letter he said that he was “still safe” and that he might be able to return home on a furlough soon. William received this letter on April 6, the day after his brother’s death.
Pfc. Thomas Tokuyoshi Miyamoto was awarded for his World War II service: the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with a silver star, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge with two oak leaf clusters, 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 May 29, 1945, at 3:00 p.m., Thomas Miyashiro’s survivors – his two brothers and sister Mildred – held a memorial service for him at Nishi Hongwanji Temple, 1727 Fort Street. They later published in the Honolulu Advertiser a Card of Thanks to their friends and relatives for their many kindnesses and floral offerings during their recent bereavement.
After the war, the US began to close many of the overseas military cemeteries. The next-of-kin 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 parents were already deceased, but the siblings chose to have their brother brought home.
As a result, on April 21, 1949, Pfc. Thomas T. Miyamoto arrived home. The USAT Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton brought back 134 men, arriving at Pier 40-A in Honolulu Harbor’s Kapalama Basin. There were hundreds of family and friends present to attend 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 4, 1949, there were 20 burials of Hawaii’s sons at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Pfc. Thomas T. Miyamoto was among them. His burial was at 1:30 p.m. at Section D, Site 196.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with assistance by the family in 2023.