Tag Archives: Washington

Technician 5th Grade James K. Okubo, USA (November 4, 1944)

James K. Okubo was born on May 30, 1920 in Anacortes, Washington. With the internment of Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor, he was sent with his family to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California and later to the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming. It was from the latter that he was drafted into the United States Army on May 22, 1943 just before his 23rd birthday.

Okubo volunteered for the all-Nisei (2nd generation Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was trained as a combat medic. On three days in the fall of 1944, he showed such valor in combat caring for his wounded comrades that he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

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First Lieutenant Victor L. Kandle, USA (October 9, 1945)

Victor Leonard Kandle was born on June 13, 1921 in Roy, Washington. He grew up in Puyallup, Washington, graduating from high school there in 1939. He volunteered and enlisted in the United States Army on September 5, 1940, ostensibly for the Philippine Department. After basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, Kandle was eventually sent to Officer Candidates’ School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

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Private First Class Joe E. Mann, USA (September 18-19, 1944)

Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

Joe Eugene Mann was born on July 8, 1922 in Reardan, Washington. He was a high school graduate, and had completed a year of college when he was drafted into the United States Army a little more than one month after his 20th birthday on August 31, 1942.

Merely serving his country in wartime wasn’t enough for him: he volunteered for airborne training.

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Sergeant John D. Hawk, USA (August 20, 1944)

John Druse Hawk, known as “Bud” to friends and family, was born in San Francisco, California on May 30, 1924. He grew up on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and it was from that area that he joined the United States Army in 1943.

Hawk was an infantryman with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 359th Infantry Regiment. The regiment was part of the 90th Infantry Division, formed in 1942, and whose first action was in France when the first elements of the division landed on Utah Beach on D-Day.

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Privates First Class William K. Nakamura & Frank H. Ono, USA (July 4, 1944)

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 34th Infantry Division during World War II, was one of the most decorated units for valor in the history of the United States.

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.

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TFH 2/1 Part 1: Private First Class Richard B. Anderson, USMC

Richard Beatty Anderson was born in Tacoma, Washington on June 26, 1921 and grew up in nearby Agnew, Washington. He graduated from high school in 1939 or 1940, and volunteered for the United States Marine Corps in July 6, 1942. After receiving his recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Anderson was stationed at the Marine Barracks in San Diego until being ordered to report for infantry training.

Anderson received a promotion to Private First Class on April 12, 1943 and became a member of the new 4th Marine Division then in formation. His assignment was with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment then in training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California. In January 1944, the 4th Marine Division deployed from California for their first combat action of World War II: the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign.

The 4th Marine Division arrived off the shores of Kwajalein Atoll in late January. The assault began on January 31, 1944, with the 23rd Marines assigned to land the following day on the Roi portion of the linked Roi-Namur islands in the north segment of the atoll.

On February 1, 1944, PFC Anderson had taken cover in a shell hole with three of his fellow Marines. As he prepared to hurl a grenade at the Japanese enemy, the weapon slipped from his grasp and fell amongst his comrades. Instantly realizing that the grenade would kill them all if he didn’t act, Anderson selflessly smothered the grenade with his own body, saved the lives of the other three, and ultimately joined the ranks of our Nation’s greatest heroes.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):

Photo from Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*ANDERSON, RICHARD BEATTY

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 4th Marine Division during action against enemy Japanese forces on Roi Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1 February 1944. Entering a shell crater occupied by 3 other marines, Pfc. Anderson was preparing to throw a grenade at an enemy position when it slipped from his hands and rolled toward the men at the bottom of the hole. With insufficient time to retrieve the armed weapon and throw it, Pfc. Anderson fearlessly chose to sacrifice himself and save his companions by hurling his body upon the grenade and taking the full impact of the explosion. His personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty in the face of almost certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

PFC Anderson survived the grenade’s blast long enough to be evacuated to a hospital ship where he succumbed to his wounds. His remains were repatriated to the United States and he was laid to rest in the New Tacoma Cemetery, University Place, Washington.

Meanwhile, on the neighboring island of Namur, First Lieutenant John V. Power led his Marines on a charge against a Japanese strongpoint. Half a world away in Italy later the same day, Army PFC Alton W. Knappenberger’s accuracy with his automatic rifle saved the day at Cisterna.

On October 26, 1945, the United States Navy accepted into commission the Gearing-class destroyer USS Richard B. Anderson (DD-786). The ship was sponsored by PFC Anderson’s mother and his brother Robert, a Navy Machinist’s Mate, became a “plank owner” as a member of her commissioning crew. The Anderson served our fleet until her decommissioning on December 20, 1975. The ship later served for over 20 years in the Taiwanese Navy from 1977 to 1999.

The 4th Marine Division is the present-day ground component of the Marine Forces Reserve. 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines is still a part of the division and is comprised of reservists located across the Southwestern United States.

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TFH 7/6: LCDR Bruce A. Van Voorhis, USN

Bruce Avery Van Voorhis was born on January 29, 1908 in Aberdeen, Washington and spent his childhood years in Nevada. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1925, and graduated with the class of 1929. His first assignment was to the USS Mississippi (BB-41), but he only spent about one year with the battleship before reporting to Naval Air Station Pensacola for training as a Naval Aviator.

After earning his “Wings of Gold” on September 3, 1931, Van Voorhis flew a variety of carrier-based and other aircraft, and served aboard and flew off off the USS Saratoga (CV-3), USS Ranger (CV-4), USS Yorktown (CV-5), and USS Enterprise (CV-6) before the United States entered World War II.

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