Yoshio Walter Ogomori
Private First Class
100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Yoshio Walter Ogomori was born on February 9, 1923, in Kekaha, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii. He was the son of Jungo and Yoshi (Tanaka) Ogomori. There were six sons in the Ogomori family: David Uichi, Stanley Yasuichi, John Takaji, Yoshio Walter, Sadao, and Wilfred.
Father Jungo arrived in 1905 from the village of Ofuchi, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Mother Yoshi was born in Kekaha to Kikusaburo and Tomo (Yamasaki) Tanaka. They had emigrated in 1895, from Yamaguchi Prefecture. Kikusaburo was a laborer on the sugar plantation.
In 1920, the family was living at Kekaha Camp where Jungo was a laborer on the sugar plantation. Mother Yoshi took in laundry at home to supplement their income.
By 1930, the family had moved to Honolulu where they lived at 3526 Maluhia Street. Yoshi’s widowed mother, Tomo Tanaka, lived with them. Father Jungo was employed as a carpenter for a home builder.
By 1940, Jungo had died in Japan after returning there due to an illness. His widow Yoshi and the family lived at 3523 Hinahina Street and the three oldest sons worked to support the household. Yoshio graduated from McKinley High School in June, where he had been Home Room Chairman, on the Home Room Community Relations Committee, and a member of the Torch Society and the Golf Club. In the fall, he enrolled at the University of Hawaii.
Yoshio’s 1940 senior class photo
Yoshio signed his draft registration card on June 30, 1942, Local Board No. 2 at 3563 Waialae Avenue. At the time he was employed by Hawaiian Constructors located in Kapalama, and he was working in Wahiawa. He listed his mother as his point of contact and they lived in the house on Hinahina Street. Yoshio was 5’6” tall and weighed 130 pounds.
Ogomori enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 24, 1943, in Honolulu. He was employed by the U.S. Engineers Department (USED) as a carpenter’s apprentice and had completed one year of college. At the time, he weighed 139 pounds. He was sent with other volunteers to the “tent city” known as Boom Town at Schofield Barracks. On March 28, he was among the other new soldiers at an aloha farewell ceremony at Iolani Palace.
The new soldiers, including Private Yoshio Ogomori, shipped out on the S.S. Lurline on April 4 to Oakland, California. Upon arrival, they were sent by train to the 442nd RCT at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where Omori was assigned to 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, thirty miles south of Camp Shelby.
Pfc. Ogomori at Camp Shelby
In early 1944, when volunteers were requested for the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), already in combat in Italy and under-strength due to high casualties, Pfc. Ogomori was among those 442nd men who volunteered.
The exact date of Ogomori’s 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 to Rome. They were ordered to stop just a few miles short and were sent in a truck convoy through the newly-liberated city on June 5 to Civitavecchia, about 60 miles north.
At the large bivouac area at Civitavecchia, the 100th met up with the just-arrived 442nd. The 442nd was attached to the 34th Infantry Division, and the 100th Battalion attached to the 442nd, taking the place of the 1st Battalion that had remained at Camp Shelby.
Preparations to enter combat together were underway. From June 11 to 21, the Combat Team brushed up on marksmanship and small-unit tactics, in addition to an arduous physical conditioning program that included long marches through the rocky terrain. The mountains were covered with stunted, scrubby growth, which gave the enemy unlimited observation.
The 36th Infantry Division had been driving the Germans north at a fast pace, making the front constantly moving. For this reason, their relief unit – the 34th Division with the 442nd and 100th – was a considerable distance from the frontlines.
On June 21 at 3:00 a.m., the 442nd was trucked to a new bivouac area near Grosseto, not closing in until just after midnight. Two days later, they moved again on June 24 to yet another new area at Gavarrano. The next day, June 25, a 15-mile march began at 9:45 a.m. and took them to a position just behind the front lines, closing in at 6:45 p.m. They were visited that evening by Major General Charles W. Ryder, commander of the 34th Division, with final instructions for the next day’s plan to relieve the frontline units: the 142nd Infantry Regiment and 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division.
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) entered the lines together in the pre-dawn hours on June 26, 1944, near Suvereto, in the Rome-Arno Campaign. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions pushed off a few hours later, but by 11:00 a.m. were stopped by heavy resistance from the enemy. The 100th was sent into a gap in the lines at 11:30 a.m. to seize the high ground around the town of Belvedere.
Pfc. Yoshio W. Ogomori was killed this day, June 26, 1944, the first day of battle. The field hospital admission report states that he was hit in the back by artillery shells and shrapnel. He was posthumously awarded a Silver Star Medal. The citation states the circumstances of his death:
On June 26, 1944, in Italy, when his squadron was pinned down by enemy rifle and machine pistol fire, he crawled forward on his own initiative and fired rifle grenades into the building the foe held. His efficient fire diverted the enemy’s attention from the rest of the squad, who blasted their way into the stronghold causing the foe to flee. He was fatally shot while reloading his rifle. His fearlessness under fire was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Private First Class Yoshio Walter Ogomori was buried at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Tarquinia, about 99 miles south.
For his World War II service, Private First Class Ogomori was awarded the following: Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, 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.
Mrs. Ogomori receiving her son’s Silver Star, January 1945
In January 1945, Pfc. Ogomori’s mother, Yoshi Ogomori, was presented his Silver Star Medal at a ceremony in her home. The presentation was made by Lt. Col. Edwin M. Blight on behalf of Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, commander of U.S. Army-Pacific.
On June 12, 1945, at 4:30 p.m., the University of Hawaii held a Memorial Service during its annual commencement exercises at the campus outdoor theater. Memorialized were sixty former students who had been killed during World War II. They were honored by one gold star each, and there were 1,209 blue stars for the former UH students still in war service.
On December 9, 1945, Yoshio was among the 226 war dead honored at a memorial service held at 1:30 p.m. in the McKinley High School auditorium. Lt. General Robert C. Richardson Jr. gave the main address. The service was sponsored by the 100th Battalion Veterans Club, the 442nd RCT Veterans Club, the Women’s War Service Association, and the Emergency Service Committee.
In 1948, the US began to close many of the overseas military cemeteries. The next-of-kin of soldiers buried overseas were given the option of having their loved one reburied in one of the few cemeteries that would remain, or being returned home. The Ogomori family chose to have their son brought home.
As a result, on April 21, 1949, Pfc. Yoshio W. Ogomori 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 1, 1949, there were 20 burials of Hawaii’s sons at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Pfc. Yoshio W. Ogomori was among them. His burial was at 1:30 p.m. at Section D, Site 95.
His uncles Pvt. Ben Toichi and Tec/5 Charles Juichi Tanaka (522nd Field Artillery Medic), and cousin Pvt. David Katsuo Okamura (F Company), served in the 442nd RCT.
Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2023.