In addition to Staff Sergeant George D. Keathley, there were three other Medals of Honor awarded for heroism in Europe on September 14, 1944. The American heroes who earned them were First Lieutenant Edgar H. Lloyd, Sergeant Joseph J. Sadowski, and Second Lieutenant Thomas W. Wigle.
Seventy years ago today on July 7, 1944, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – predominately comprised of Nisei (2nd generation, born-citizen Japanese-Americans) – continued the fight for Hill 140 near Castellina, Italy. Two of the regiment’s soldiers had already exhibited heroism worthy of the Medal of Honor.
On July 4, 1944 two Privates First Class of the regiment went above and beyond the normal call of duty in the face of our Nazi German enemies and received our Nation’s highest honor.
In the late 1990s, the United States Army began a review of the service records of Japanese-Americans who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor during World War II to determine if any of them had been denied the Medal of Honor due to racial prejudice.
Two of the soldiers whose decorations were found to be insufficient and thus upgraded to our nation’s highest honor were Yeiki Kobashigawa and Shinyei Nakamine, who fought as part of the all-Nisei (born Japanese-Americans and citizens, sons of Japanese immigrants) 100th Infantry Battalion attached to the 34th Infantry Division in Italy on June 2-3, 1944.
Furman L. Smith was born in Six Mile, South Carolina on May 11, 1925. He was drafted into the United States Army on July 28, 1943 at age eighteen. Like so many young Americans ripped from their civilian lives to fight in distant lands, Smith held just a grammar school education and had been a farm hand in Central, South Carolina.
William Wylie Galt was born on December 19, 1919 in Geyser, Judith Basin County, Montana. I wasn’t able to determine how he joined the United States Army for service in World War II, but by May 29, 1944 he was a Captain and the operations officer (S-3) with the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division.
Beryl Richard Newman was born on November 2, 1911 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Based on his relative age, his rank of First Lieutenant on May 26, 1944, and a lack of a 1938-1946 enlistment record, I am surmising that he was already in the United States Army or the National Guard prior to World War II.
George John Hall was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts on January 9, 1921. He was a member of the Massachusetts National Guard activated and federalized for World War II service with the United States Army. By May 1944, Hall was a Staff Sergeant with the 34th Infantry Division‘s 135th Infantry Regiment.
Retired United States Army Colonel Ernest H. Dervishian passed away at age 67 (Born August 10, 1916) thirty years ago today on May 20, 1984. He was laid to rest on May 23, 1984 in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia in the Westhampton Memorial Park.
Forty years to the day before that, Dervishian was a Technical Sergeant with the 133rd Infantry Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division as they began their attack to break out from the Anzio beachhead on May 23, 1944.
Paul F. Riordan was born in Charles City, Iowa on November 8, 1920. Like so many of the men who fought for the United States during World War II, much of the details of his life are lost to history. He moved with his family from Iowa to Missouri in 1937, and volunteered for the United States Army in 1940.
By February 1944, Riordan was a Second Lieutenant with the 133d Infantry Regiment, part of the 34th Infantry Division. Riordan and the “Red Bull” division were locked in combat in Italy in the early phases of the Battle of Monte Cassino.