Private First Class
442nd Regimental Combat Team
2nd Battalion, H Company
Yoneo Hamada was born on July 8, 1917, in Vacaville, Solano County, California. He was the son of Tanekichi and Yao (Yukikira) Hamada who arrived from Hiroshima Prefecture in 1891 and 1906, respectively. He had one brother, Isamu, and one sister, Yome.
Hamada signed his draft registration card on October 16, 1940, Local Board No. 66 in Alameda County. His point of contact was his employer, Mr. Yokomizo, and they both lived at 3640 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, the site of Moss Cleaners where he worked. He was 5’7” tall, and his weight was 160 pounds.
On September 28, 1942, he was incarcerated, with no accompanying family, at the Central Utah WRA internment camp (also known as Topaz), arriving from Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, California. At the time, his home was in Oakland.
On February 12, 1943, Hamada was released for employment (no location given), and on July 2, 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Salt Lake City, Utah. His induction date was July 16. He was assigned to the 442nd RCT and sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training as a Private in H Company.
Hamada served in four campaigns of the 442nd: Rome-Arno in Italy, Rhineland-Vosges and Rhineland-Maritime Alps in France, and Po Valley back in Italy.
His name appeared on a list of 363 wounded soldiers of the 442nd that was published in Pacific Citizen, Salt Lake City, on January 20, 1945, with the notation that the next of kin (his brother Isamu) had been notified and his wounding could have occurred in the Vosges Campaign. The nature of the wound was not given.
Hamada was discharged from the U.S. Army on January 23, 1946.
For his service in World War II, Private First Class Yoneo Hamada 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, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Distinguished Unit 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.
In October 1946, he signed on at Fort Mason in San Francisco as a crew member working in the laundry on the troop transport ship USAT General H.F. Hodges operating in the Pacific. By 1948, he was living in San Francisco where he was employed as a dental technician.
He soon married Mary Hisako Kurihara of Sacramento and they lived in San Francisco. Over the years, they raised two sons and two daughters. Yoneo was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Hiroshima Kenjin-Kai, an organization for descendants of immigrants from Hiroshima Prefecture. His name appears on the Go For Broke Memorial in Los Angeles, Panel 8a, Row 22.
Yoneo Hamada died in San Francisco on December 9, 1996, and he was buried in the Japanese Cemetery in Colma, San Mateo County. Survivors included his wife, two sons, and three grandchildren. His wife Mary died in 2011 and was buried next to him.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2021.