Tag Archives: California

Private First Class Clarence B. Craft, USA (May 31, 1945)

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Photo: Remember the Deadeyes

Clarence Byrle Craft was born on September 23, 1921 in San Bernardino, California. He was working as a “bus, taxi, truck, [or] tractor” driver when he was drafted into the United States Army on September 16, 1944, just one week before his 23rd birthday.

Craft was trained as an infantryman and was sent to the Pacific as a replacement soldier for the 96th Infantry Division. The 96th, known as the “Deadeyes”, had just completed their first combat assignments in late 1944 and early 1945 in the Philippines. Craft would join them for the Battle of Okinawa as a member of the division’s 382nd Infantry Regiment in the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, Company G.

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Raisin A Whole Lotta Trouble

“Being the little guy against the government can feel like a David and Goliath thing and the idea we could win is tremendous.”

These are the words of a small raisin grower in the Central Valley of California whose livelihood now rests in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

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Second Lieutenant Robert M. Viale, USA (February 5, 1945)

Robert M. Viale was born in Bayside, California on April 21, 1916. He was a member of the California National Guard who was federalized for service in the United States Army on March 3, 1941 in the days before our entry into World War II. What would have been a one-year call-up obviously became much longer.

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Private First Class George B. Turner, USA (January 3, 1945)

George Benton Turner was born on June 27, 1899 in Longview, Texas. He first answered America’s call to service in 1918, when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps while a student at the Wentworth Military Academy in Missouri. Turner joined too late to see service overseas during World War I. After being released from the Marines, he settled in California.

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Private First Class Joe M. Nishimoto, USA (November 7, 1944)

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.

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Privates Barney F. Hajiro & George T. Sakato and the “Lost Battalion” (October 29, 1944)

On October 24, 1944, the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment – part of the 36th Infantry Division – was cut off and surrounded by the Nazis in France’s Vosges Mountains. Two attempts were made to break through to the unit known as the “Lost Battalion”. Those attempts failed.

On October 26, the all-Nisei (second-generation Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team was ordered to break through to the Lost Battalion. Over five days of intense fighting, the 442nd finally saved about 230 of 1-141’s soldiers, and suffered at least 800 casualties in the process.

Two of the 442nd’s soldiers earned the Medal of Honor for their heroism during the battle.

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Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani, USA (July 15, 1944)

Kazuo Otani was born an American citizen to Japanese immigrant parents in Visalia, California on June 2, 1918. He was drafted into the United States Army on February 16, 1942. Not long afterwards, his family was interned in the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona.

Otani served with the 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Nisei unit made up of second-generation Japanese-Americans.

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Sergeant Roy W. Harmon, USA (July 12, 1944)

Roy W. Harmon was born in 1915 (or 1916) in Talala, Oklahoma. He possessed a grade-school education and was working as a farmhand in Pixley, California when he was drafted into the United States Army on November 17, 1942.

Harmon was an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 362nd Infantry Regiment of the 91st Infantry Division. The 91st served in Europe during the Italian Campaign, entering combat on January 22, 1944.

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The 27th’s Three: Baker, O’Brien, and Salomon (June 19-July 7, 1944)

The United States Army‘s 27th Infantry Division was known as “O’Ryan’s Roughnecks” for its World War I commander, Major General John F. O’Ryan. For service in World War II, the New York National Guard’s 105th Infantry Regiment was federalized on October 15, 1940 into the active Army.

The division’s soldiers earned three Medals of Honor during the war. All three were awarded to men of the 105th Infantry during the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific.

The three recipients were Thomas A. Baker, William J. O’Brien, and Ben L. Salomon.

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Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga, USA (June 26, 1944)

Kiyoshi K. Muranaga was born in Los Angeles, California on February 16, 1922 to Japanese immigrant parents. An American citizen by birth, he was living in Gardena, California when he was interred with his family in the Granada War Relocation Center in Colorado.

Records indicate he was drafted into the United States Army on May 29, 1943 and he was trained as a mortarman and placed in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Nisei (second generation Japanese-American) unit.  Continue reading Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga, USA (June 26, 1944)

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