Jiro Yukimura | Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (2024)

Jiro Yukimura | Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (1)

Jiro Yukimura
Second Lieutenant
442nd Regimental Combat Team
Military Intelligence Service

Jiro Yukimura was born on November 17, 1920, in Lihue, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii. His parents were Hisakichi (born on November 10, 1884) and Shima (Tomishima) Yukimura (born on May 7, 1895), both from the village of Shinjyo, Kuga District, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Jiro had one older brother, Yoshio (born November 21, 1918). An earlier child died in infancy

Hisakichi arrived in Hawaii in 1903, and worked as a cook for long-time Kauai Sheriff William Henry Rice. He later owned Yukimura Store in Kilipaki Camp on the Lihue sugar plantation. Hisakichi and Shima, together with other Issei (Japanese immigrants), helped start Lihue Christian Church, which was originally known as Lihue Japanese Church.

After graduating from Kauai High School, Jiro went to Honolulu to attend the University of Hawaii (UH). As a senior in 1941, he was in his dormitory preparing to go to church services on December 7, when he witnessed the enemy aircraft heading toward Pearl Harbor. He later recalled that he and his friends “couldn’t hear the noise, but could see a lot of planes” and they thought, “Gee, the maneuvers are strange.” They did not think much of it, until they turned on the radio and learned of the attack. They never made it to church that day. In the evening, the radio announced a call for volunteers.

The next day, Jiro volunteered, thinking that his two years of mandatory ROTC classes at UH could be put to use. He and his friends went to the Honolulu Armory on the grounds of Iolani Palace – and he drank black coffee for the first time. He was enrolled in the newly formed Hawaii Territorial Guard (HTG), and issued a helmet and a 1903 Springfield rifle with one clip loaded with five rounds of ammo. His job was to protect various installations around Oahu. Yukimura later recalled that his first assignment was to “go to the boat canal [Ala Wai Boat Harbor] to look out to the ocean to see if they would attack us by sea.” He was later stationed at a water tank atop Wilhelmina Rise, a water pump in Kapahulu, and an electrical relay station in Kuliouou to protect against possible sabotage.

After about six weeks of service, due to a growing, although baseless, community fear of AJAs, all HTG members of Japanese ancestry were classified by the U.S. government as “enemy aliens.” They were called back to the Armory and dismissed without explanation or prior notice. As Jiro later said, “That was a big blow. That was the worst time in my life. We all hugged each other and cried, actually, to think that they kicked us out when we were taking the time to do our best to help out.”

By the time he returned to his dorm, Jiro had decided to return home to Kauai. Even that short trip was painful. As an AJA, he found that he now had the lowest priority for the one daily flight to Lihue. He went to the airport for three straight days before he was able to board the flight. Once home, Jiro worked in the family store, which by this time was located in Lihue. To help the war effort, every Sunday Jiro went to the west shore and cleared brush so that the Army stationed there would have a clear line of sight to defend if the enemy tried to invade.

A few weeks later, on February 14, 1942, Jiro signed his draft registration card at Local Board No. 2, at the Lihue Armory. He was 5’5” tall and weighed 125 pounds. At the time, he was still listed as a student at UH. He gave his point of contact as his brother Yoshio.

A year later, on March 11, 1943, Yukimura enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was among the 144 Kauai men who were the first inducted for the new AJA regiment being formed. He was listed as having completed four years of college and currently employed as a sales clerk. Jiro was sent with other new soldiers to Schofield Barracks and housed in the tent camp known as “Boom Town.” On March 20, it was announced that the Kauai soldiers had on their own initiative volunteered to donate blood to the Honolulu Blood Bank.

The whole contingent was given an aloha farewell ceremony by the community at Iolani Palace on March 28. They then sailed on the S.S. Lurline on April 4 for Oakland, California. After a train trip across the US to Mississippi, the 2,686 new soldiers arrived on April 13 at Camp Shelby.

The men were assigned to a unit of the 442nd and began basic training on May 10. At some point after this ended on August 23, personnel arrived from the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) to identify soldiers with Japanese language proficiency. In October, Jiro was one of 250 men chosen for transfer to the MIS. He was sent to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, for intensive training as an interpreter/translator. After graduation, the men were sent to various units in the Pacific Theater of War.

In 1944, Yukimura arrived in Australia and served in Brisbane and Sydney as a translator of Japanese documents captured and brought back from the front lines. Among the documents were diaries kept by Japanese soldiers. Unlike US soldiers, the Japanese men were allowed to keep diaries that contained useful information on ports visited and troop movements.

When General Douglas MacArthur moved his headquarters to Manila in the Philippines in October 1944, Jiro – now a Second Lieutenant – was assigned to the public relations office as a news correspondent. Two other Nisei MIS men were also assigned with him – Tom Sakamoto and Noby Yoshimura. Jiro later served in Okinawa and Tokyo. While serving in Japan, he met General Douglas MacArthur.

Below: Jiro with a troop transport plane in Tokyo

Jiro Yukimura | Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (2)

On September 2, 1945, 2nd Lt. Yukimura, Sakamoto, and Yoshimura boarded a Navy destroyer in Yokohama and were taken to the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. They were serving as Army escorts to media covering General MacArthur. The men boarded the Missouri and proceeded to the navigation deck where they witnessed the formal signing of the unconditional surrender of Japan. Yukimura later recalled that it was a somber day, planes flying overhead, and General MacArthur in his usual uniform with his corncob pipe in his mouth. Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu was lame and had to walk with the help of an aide. The solemn and brief ceremony, without music or fanfare, was held at 9:00 a.m. on a simple table placed on the second deck, just starboard of the No. 2 gun turret. Yukimura had a clear view of the ceremony below where he and about 100 war correspondents were gathered.

Lt. Yukimura remained in the greater Tokyo area during the occupation. One notable incident occurred on September 15, 1945, when he was called on to translate in the rescue of a lost 11-year-old Japanese girl. Chizuko Yamaguchi had ventured into Tokyo from her village of Kanamachi looking for a way to earn money for her widowed mother and brother. The story made the newspapers throughout the US.

For his World War II service, 2nd Lieutenant Jiro Yukimura was awarded the: Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Army of Occupation Medal. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on October 5, 2010, along with the other veterans of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team. This is the highest Congressional Civilian Medal.

After the war, Jiro completed his graduate studies in social work at the University of Hawaii (UH). He married Honolulu native Jennie Tomoe Yoshioka, daughter of Tomoichi and Takayo Yoshioka, on July 17, 1948, at Makiki Christian Church. Jennie had graduated from UH in 1946 with a major in Social Work. After a honeymoon on Kauai, they were employed by the Department of Public Welfare and lived at 3147 Charles Street in Honolulu. They later moved to Jiro’s home island of Kauai. He and Jennie raised five children and lived in Hanamaulu.

Jiro Yukimura | Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (3)

For many years, Jiro worked at Yukimura Store fixing appliances, delivering groceries, and running the meat market. He eventually left the store and worked as a probation officer for Kauai County Family Court. He was later remembered as kind, patient, and compassionate to those whose case was assigned to him.

Jiro about 2000 wearing his MIS Veterans cap

On April 6, 2017, Jiro Yukimura died at the age of 96, a resident of the Garden Island Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. His funeral was held on July 15 at Lihue Christian Church, prior to burial in the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.

Below: Jennie in the 1980s

Jiro Yukimura | Sons and Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (4)

Jennie Yukimura died on March 6, 2022, and was buried next to her husband. They were survived by their five children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team with assistance by the family in 2024.

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Jiro Yukimura | Sons  and  Daughters  of  the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (2024)
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