Tsugito Kajikawa

Tsugito Kajikawa
Staff Sergeant
442nd Regimental Combat Team
3rd Battalion, M Company

Tsugito Kajikawa was born on October 4, 1920, at Hawi, Kohala District, Hawaii island, Territory of Hawaii.  He was the youngest of three children of Kumekichi and Waka (Amano) Kajikawa.  His siblings were sister Hatsue and brother Masato.

Kumekichi emigrated from the village of Nakahara, Asa District, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, arriving in Hawaii on January 17, 1907, on the S.S. Korea. Waka was born in Honolulu and was taken to Japan at the age of three, according to immigration records.  She returned to Hawaii on the Shinyo Maru, arriving on April 29, 1912, from the same village.  They married at the U.S. Immigration Station five days after her arrival.

Kumekichi worked for the Kohala Sugar Plantation and the family lived at Camp 17 in Hawi.  Tsugito attended the Kohala schools and graduated from Kohala High School.  On March 15, 1940, he and his father attended a large dinner at Halaula School for the Kohala Sugar Company’s bi-monthly manager’s dinner.

Kajikawa registered for the draft on February 14, 1942, at Local Board 4, Kohala.  His point of contact was his father.  He had four gold teeth, was 5’10½” tall and weighed 145 pounds.

On March 18, 1943, Tsugito enlisted in the Army.  At the time, he was employed as a carpenter for the Kohala Sugar Company.  He was among the 30 men from Kohala who joined the 275 Big Island volunteers who were assembled at 4:00 p.m. that day at the Hilo Armory.  The men then marched to the park opposite the Federal building on Waianuenue Avenue.  Following an address by J. M. Brown, Chairman of Selective Service Board No. 2, the oath of enlistment was administered to them by Colonel Foster G. Henzel, commander of the Hawaii Service Command.  An Army band played patriotic music, after which Brigadier General Herbert D. Gibson, Commanding General of the Hawaii District, outlined to the inductees the duties and obligations of an American soldier.

After travelling from Hilo to Honolulu on an inter-island steamer, Tsugito was at the “tent city” nicknamed Boom Town at Schofield Barracks with the other new soldiers who would be part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

After a farewell aloha ceremony at Iolani Palace on March 28, they sailed on April 4 on the S.S. Lurline to San Francisco.  Following a train trip across the US, the new Hawaii soldiers arrived at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where Yasuo was assigned to 3rd Battalion, M Company.

In September 1943, it was announced that he was promoted to Corporal.  In March 1944, while at Camp Shelby, Tsugito was hospitalized with German measles.  He was treated and later returned to duty.

After over a year of basic, unit, and combat training and field maneuvers, Tsugito left Camp Shelby by train on April 22, 1944, with the rest of the 442nd.  They shipped out to Europe from nearby Hampton Roads on May 2, 1944, in a convoy of over 100 ships.

They arrived at Naples, Italy on May 28.  The 442nd was in bivouac at nearby Bagnoli for a week, then they boarded LSTs for the overnight trip to Anzio, and a convoy around the recently liberated city of Rome.  They arrived at their large bivouac near Civitavecchia, 50 miles from Rome, where they made final preparations for combat in the Rome-Arno Campaign.

On June 26, 1944, the 442nd entered combat near Suvereto.  Two weeks later, on July 10 and July 11, 1944, they had advanced into Tuscany and were north of the Cecina River.  The objective was a road that ran west from the town of Pomaja toward the sea and was instrumental in the German’s movement along the battlefront.  Resistance by the Germans was stiff.  Tsugito Kajikawa was killed during the series of battles on July 11 in the area of Pomaja.

Staff Sergeant Kajikawa was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Follonica, Plot D, Row 41 grave 486.

For his military service, Staff Sergeant Tsugito Kajikawa was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze star, World War II Victory Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge.  Tsugito 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 September 1944, the Hawi Language School deeded their building and lot in Kaau to the newly organized Kohala American Legion Post No. 4 to use as their clubhouse.  After renovations and furnishing, framed photographs of the ten Kohala men who lost their lives during the war – including Tsugito Kajikawa – were hung on the clubhouse walls.

On November 11, 1947, his name was among the eleven Kohala soldiers who were honored when a plaque bearing their names was unveiled on the Kohala Courthouse grounds.  The day began with a parade from Kamehameha Park to the Courthouse at 9:45 a.m.  Members of the American Legion Post No. 4, Hawaii National Guard, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts participated.  The dedication ceremony featured Reverend Masao Yamada of the 442nd RCT as keynote speaker.  Following the unveiling by the Girl Scouts, memorial wreaths were presented by local community clubs.

Kohala Memorial to War Dead in 1947

In 1948, the Army began the process of closing the smaller military cemeteries in Italy, and offered families the choice of reburial of their loved one at the large U.S. Military Cemetery in Florence or returning him for reburial at a cemetery in the US designated by the family.  The Kajikawa family choice was to have him come home.

S/Sgt. Kajikawa’s remains arrived on December 24, 1948, on the USAT Sinnett to Dock M-3 at Pearl Harbor with 121 other of Hawaii’s war dead.  Over 700 family and friends were waiting on the pier where the 265th Army Band played Aloha Oe as the ship docked at 8:30 a.m.  They were eulogized in a shipside service by the Secretary of Hawaii, Oren E. Long, who said, “We are proud to have had such sons.  These men stood the test of action and added a new chapter of American heroism to our history.”  The caskets were taken to the Army mausoleum at Schofield Barracks awaiting burial arrangements.

Staff Sergeant Tsugito Kajikawa was reinterred on July 22, 1949, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Section D, Site 378.  He was survived by his parents and two sisters.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022.

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