Harry F. Madokoro (1944/08/25)
"We're proud as hell to be in there pitching, doing our share of the work," wrote Harry.
Harry Fumio Madokoro was born in California, in 1912, to Nisaburo and Natsu Madokoro. Harry's only sibling was a younger sister, Yayeko, who died of tuberculosis in 1937. His father was a farm laborer and his mother ran a candy and pastry concession from the front room of their home on Union Street in Watsonville. Harry attended local elementary schools and Watsonville High School for two years in the late 1920s.
During the 1930s, Madokoro worked for several farmers in the Pajaro Valley, and drove farm equipment on the E.H. Spiegl's vegetable farm in San Juan Bautista. When not working, his special interest was his Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he purchased in San Francisco.
In April 1942 the Madokoro family was moved into a relocation center in Salinas and then to a Japanese internment camp in Poston, Arizona. While at Camp II, Harry became the Chief of Police.
In March 1943 an appeal was made to the government by the Japanese American Citizens League to allow Nisei men to form an all-Japanese army unit and Harry Madokoro was the first to volunteer. He and other recruits were sent to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, Utah and then to Camp Selby, Mississippi for basic training. It was there that the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team was organized.
On May 1, 1944 the 442nd boarded ships that transported them to Italy, and on June 2, 1944 arrived in Naples. Madokoro and his unit assisted in the capture of Rome and joined in the pursuit of retreating Germans up the boot of Italy to Livorno, which was captured in July 1944. In July 1944, Madokoro was cited
“For extraordinary heroism in action on 7 July 1944 near Molino A Ventoabbto, and on the 16th and 17th of July 1944 in Luciana, Italy. During the final assault on an enemy held hill, Private First Class Madokoro advanced ahead of his squad to a strategic position from which he could deliver effective automatic rifle fire. Partly exposed to enemy fire, he scanned his sector of the slope for targets. He leveled his automatic rifle on a nest of snipers, forcing them to disperse. Throughout the bitter fight he held his position, neutralizing another enemy nest and pinning down the enemy to enable his platoon to take the hill. Again at Luciana, Italy, Private First Class Madokoro occupied an advanced position and proceeded to fire on the enemy entrenched on the outskirts of the town. With heavy fire directed at him, he stubbornly held his position and provided covering fire when his squad was forced to withdraw because of a concentrated artillery and mortar barrage. The following day, when his squad became separated from the remainder of the company within the town, Private First Class Madokoro provided flank protection against determined enemy attacks. A group of enemy soldiers entered a nearby draw and threw hand grenades into the enemy position. On another occasion he left his position and silenced a machine pistol position with a grenade. Still later in the course of the battle, he approached an enemy machine gun nest and silenced it by firing from a kneeling position. By his stubborn determination, conspicuous devotion to duty and courage, Private First Class Madokoro inspired his squad in preventing the enemy's escape while his company closed in to occupy the town.”
Other stories abound of Harry's heroic actions in Italy; however, his date with destiny was rapidly approaching. On August 25, a request was made in Company K for volunteers to go on a night patrol to cross the Arno River on a combat mission; again he was the first to volunteer. The patrol completed the mission; however, while returning, Private First Class Harry Madokoro was killed by a land mine.
Harry Fumio Madokoro's remains were recovered and buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Madokoro was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
(USCR, 1920 US Census, CA, Santa Cruz; NARA2; WRP September 9, 1944 1:1, Mas Hashimoto, Re-Enactment; Lessons in Loyalty Part 2, 442nd Stories, 2001, http://www. watsonvillesantacruzjacl.org/reenactment/lessons2.htm, [16 September 2008])