Staff Sergeant Robert T. Kuroda, USA (October 20, 1944)

Robert Toshio Kuroda was born in Aiea, Hawaii on the island of Oahu on November 8, 1922. His parents were Japanese immigrants, making him a Nisei, or second-generation (native born) Japanese-American. He graduated from vocational school and was an electrician, but found it difficult to find work with World War II raging and prejudices against people of Japanese descent. He was drafted on March 23, 1943 and volunteered for the United States Army‘s all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

On October 20, 1944 near Bruyères, France, then-Staff Sergeant Kuroda as a member of Company H of the 442nd’s 2nd Battalion attacked and destroyed two dug-in Nazi machine guns solo before he was killed by a German sniper.

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*KURODA, ROBERT T.

Citation: Staff Sergeant Robert T. Kuroda distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 20 October 1944, near Bruyeres, France. Leading his men in an advance to destroy snipers and machine gun nests, Staff Sergeant Kuroda encountered heavy fire from enemy soldiers occupying a heavily wooded slope. Unable to pinpoint the hostile machine gun, he boldly made his way through heavy fire to the crest of the ridge. Once he located the machine gun, Staff Sergeant Kuroda advanced to a point within ten yards of the nest and killed three enemy gunners with grenades. He then fired clip after clip of rifle ammunition, killing or wounding at least three of the enemy. As he expended the last of his ammunition, he observed that an American officer had been struck by a burst of fire from a hostile machine gun located on an adjacent hill. Rushing to the officer’s assistance, he found that the officer had been killed. Picking up the officer’s submachine gun, Staff Sergeant Kuroda advanced through continuous fire toward a second machine gun emplacement and destroyed the position. As he turned to fire upon additional enemy soldiers, he was killed by a sniper. Staff Sergeant Kuroda’s courageous actions and indomitable fighting spirit ensured the destruction of enemy resistance in the sector. Staff Sergeant Kuroda’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

At the time, racism limited the recognition of Staff Sergeant Kuroda’s heroism to the Distinguished Service Cross. His award was one of those identified as falling short during the 1990’s review of Japanese-American combat awards and was upgraded to the Medal of Honor on June 21, 2000.

Robert Toshio Kuroda rests in peace in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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