Joe M. Nishimoto was born an American citizen to Japanese parents in Fresno, California on February 21, 1919. He was interned like most Japanese-Americans in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was at the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas when his brother-in-law arranged for his release and move to Columbus, Ohio.
Nishimoto was living in Columbus when he was drafted into the United States Army on October 4, 1943. He volunteered for service in the all-Nisei (2nd generation Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
On November 7, 1944 as a Private First Class Nishimoto destroyed two Nazi machine gun positions in a solo attack that caused the enemy to withdraw. He was killed in action just eight days later on November 15th. Nishimoto’s valor was recognized at the time with a posthumous award of the Distinguished Service Cross and his decoration was upgraded to the Medal of Honor following the 1990’s review of Japanese-American service records and presented on June 21, 2000 by President Bill Clinton.
*NISHIMOTO, JOE M.
Citation: Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 7 November 1944, near La Houssiere, France. After three days of unsuccessful attempts by his company to dislodge the enemy from a strongly defended ridge, Private First Class Nishimoto, as acting squad leader, boldly crawled forward through a heavily mined and booby-trapped area. Spotting a machine gun nest, he hurled a grenade and destroyed the emplacement. Then, circling to the rear of another machine gun position, he fired his submachine gun at point-blank range, killing one gunner and wounding another. Pursuing two enemy riflemen, Private First Class Nishimoto killed one, while the other hastily retreated. Continuing his determined assault, he drove another machine gun crew from its position. The enemy, with their key strong points taken, were forced to withdraw from this sector. Private First Class Nishimoto’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.
Nishimoto’s remains were returned to the United States after the war and laid to rest in Fresno’s Washington Colony Cemetery.