Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
100th Battalion, Company C
Tokio Ajitomi was born January 9, 1917, in Lahaina, Maui, Territory of Hawaii. He was the son of Matsusuke and Kame (Ikehara) Ajitomi, who had emigrated from Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, in 1906 and 1914, respectively. Tokio and his older brother Matsuei were taken by their parents in 1921, to live with their grandfather U. Ajitomi and attend school in Kinbumura, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture
Japan. While there, a daughter was born. Their mother Kame died the following year. The brothers arrived back in Lahaina in 1930.
Tokio signed his draft registration card in Lahaina on October 26, 1940. At the time his address was Hirai Camp; he was employed by Pioneer Mill Company; his point of contact was his uncle Kamaro Ajitomi of Hirai Camp. Tokio was 5’4” tall and weighed 115 pounds. He lived with his brothers Matsuei and Yoshio, and Matsuei was the head of the household. They were employed as irrigators at the sugar plantation. No record of their father in 1940 has been located, although his tombstone indicates he died in 1941.
Ajitomi enlisted in Lahaina on November 13, 1941. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, with the 299th Infantry Regiment for basic training. Afterwards, he was a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) and sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, for training. After more training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, he was among those 100th soldiers who left for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, the staging area for transport on the troop ship S.S. James Parker for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. After service in Oran, Algeria, the 100th arrived at Salerno, Italy, on September 22, 1943.
A month later, his brother Matsuei Ajitomi was killed in action on October 23, 1943, in the vicinity of Alife, during the Allied drive toward Rome. Tokio served throughout the Italian campaigns – in the battles for Cassino, Rome, Anzio, and onward toward Livorno.
Tokio was with the 100th as they were sent to France, arriving on September 30, 1944. He fought in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign. He was killed in action on October 17, 1944, during the several days’ battle to liberate the important road and rail junction of Bruyères.
Pfc. Tokio Ajitomi was buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery in nearby Epinal, France.
For his military service, Pfc. Ajitomi was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign with three bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman
’s Badge, and Distinguished Unit Badge with one oak leaf cluster. 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.
After the war, families were given the choice to have their soldier’s remains shipped to a permanent military cemetery in Italy or France, or sent home. Tokio and Matsuei Ajitomi’s remains were sent to the United States at the request of their family.
On April 21, 1949, Tokio’s and Matsuei’s remains were among those of 134 war dead to arrive in Honolulu aboard the USAT Sergeant Jack Pendleton. There was a large ceremony at Pier 40-A to welcome them back home. Their brother Yoshio was listed as their next of kin. The caskets were held at the U.S. Army Mausoleum at Schofield Barracks until burial arrangements were finalized. They were buried next to each other at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on August 4, 1949, Section D, Sites 290 and 291, respectively.
On June 9, 1951, the brothers’ names were inscribed by the West Maui Lions Club on the new plaque for West Maui’s World War II dead. The plaque replaced one placed earlier in their club courtyard in Lahaina that had been damaged in a storm, and it also contains names of Korean war dead.
For more information from the 100th Infantry Battalion website, please click on the link below.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022.