Army Veteran Yeiki Kobashigawa is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Yeiki Kobashigawa was born in 1917, on the Big Island in Hawaii, to Japanese immigrants. He had to drop out of school at a young age to work and help support his large family after his father became sick. He worked on a sugar plantation as a laborer and played baseball in his free time. After joining the Army in 1941, he was assigned to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 34th Infantry Division and trained at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and Camp Shelby in Mississippi. He rose to the rank of technical sergeant during his service.
During World War II, Kobashigawa saw action in Africa, Italy and France. His unit initially deployed to North Africa in August 1943, before moving to Salerno, Italy, in September of the same year.
In June 1944, near Lanuvio, Italy, Kobashigawa and his platoon were ambushed by German forces who were hunkered down in several machine gun nests. Under intense enemy fire, Kobashigawa led a squad that crawled 50 yards toward the nests and assaulted the first nest with grenades and submachine gun fire. After capturing the first nest, his platoon advanced while Kobashigawa repeated the process on a second machine gun nest. The second machine gun nest was seized in a similar fashion by Kobashigawa and a fellow soldier, resulting in the capture of four German soldiers as prisoners. Four more machine guns nests were in the vicinity and Kobashigawa was successful in disabling two of them.
For these actions, Kobashigawa received a Distinguished Service Cross in 1944. In 1996, the United States began investigating discrimination against American soldiers of Japanese descent, in regards to medals and citations awarded during World War II. This led to Kobashigawa’s Distinguished Service Cross being changed to a Medal of Honor in 2000. It was awarded to Kobashigawa by President Bill Clinton at the White House.
After the war, Kobashigawa worked as a maintenance mechanic and raised his family in Hawaii. He died in 2005 at the age of 88 and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Jack Patterson
Editors: Merrit Pope, Nathaniel Scott
Researcher: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphic Designer: Philip Levine