Monday, May 26, 2008

John Norio Ogawa

Several years ago, while on vacation during Memorial Day, I started a tradition of going to a cemetery to remember the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for this country. The tradition fell by the wayside as Memorial Day vacation destinations changed, and later after having kids. Today I restarted the tradition with Lukas and Natalie.

We left early this morning (leaving Cindy at home with Konrad) to visit a cemetery in a nearby city that is old by Orange County standards. There are several Civil War veterans’ graves scattered throughout the cemetery, and Lukas enjoyed finding the stars (identifying Civil War veterans) that are placed next to the government-issued head stones. As we wrapped up our tour, I found a grave of a soldier who died in action in World War II, on April 21, 1945.

John Ogawa fought in the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was the most highly decorated military unit in United States history. I don’t know much else about him but I did find this battle report online:

During the night of the 21st-22nd, Company I sustained heavy casualties from a direct artillery hit on the company CP (command post), located in a mine shaft near Foce il Pulica (Italy). Five men were killed, including the I Company Commander. Lt. Wheatley and seven were injured. The company reverted to 3rd Bn reserve and assembled near Pulica. Sergeant Richard U. Shinto was directed to escort the wounded, the litter-bearers and medic traveling through the steep difficult mountain trail which led to the forward-aid station and in total darkness, Italian litter-bearers had problems negotiating unfamiliar trials and one team dropped a wounded soldier down the slope of the trail. KIA losses for 21st April, 1945 were as follows: UNIT LAST NAME FIRST NAME RANK HOMETOWN 442-I WHEATLEY James David 1st Lt. Demopolis, AL 442-I HAITA Eiichi F. Cpt. Ione, WA 442-3Hq. KINOSHITA Mamoru Pfc. Winton, CA 442-K NAKAGAKI Masaru Pvt. Woodland, CA 442-I OGAWA John N. Sgt., Garden Grove, CA 100A OKAMOTO Donald M. Pfc. Honolulu, HI 442-I ONOYE Lloyd M. Pfc. Salinas, CA 442-L OYABU Harumatsu Pvt. Waiehu, HI 442-E TAIRA Seitoku Pvt. Hilo, HI 442-I TAKAHASHI Arthur I. Sgt. Los Angeles, CA 442-Can. YONEMURA Hitoshi 2nd Lt. Los Angeles, CA.

I know Lukas and Natalie don't yet understand the significance of this day, but I wanted to start now in teaching them about the sacrifices that have been made by many brave Americans.

Happy Memorial Day!


Anonymous said...

Hi there.....great information and thanks for remembering our loved ones that died for us fighting for our Country. Mamoru Kinoshita....beloved Uncle that I never got to meet.....bless his soul and thank you for this blog

Kurt Owens said...

Yeah, I saw that grave too. He's buried next to his parents, who died much later. What a hard price to pay. I go and put a flag on that grave every once in a while. I showed my kids to see if they could understand that other men died to ensure thier comfortable life.