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Frank I. Mizufuka

Birth date
Place of birth
Los Angeles CA, U.S.A.
1941-11-1, Ft. McArthur, San Pedro CA
Enlistment type
Service branch
Service type
Unit type
Units served
442nd Regimental Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, Company F; Stateside - Camp Robinson Station Hospital Detachment.
Military specialty
Supervisor, Military & Civilian Personnel - Stateside; Automatic Rifle and Bazooka Team - Overseas.
Camp Roberts, CA; Camp Robinson, AR; Fort McCllelan, AL; Italy; France.
Battlecreek MI
Unit responsibility
Combat Infantry
Personal responsibility
Automatic Rifle/Bazooka Team of my quad.
Major battles (if served in a war zone)
Southern France - The Battle of Bruyeres and the advancement toward the rescue of the 'Lost Battalion'.
Awards, medals, citations (individual or unit)
Good Conduct Medal; European Theater of Operation; Expert Rifleman; Purple Heart; 2 Bronze Stars (one in recognition of the unit citation received for the O'Conner Task Force); Presidential Unit Citation; Etc.
Living conditions
Living conditions were terrible. Slept sitting down or in a fox hole. No bath. Front line chow was ususally C or K rations. No entertainment.
Most vivid memory of military experience
The enemies we encountered (captured) were much like us. Frightened, fearful of being killed. Youths in their teens who were there because they had no choice.
Missed most whilst in the military
Other members of the family. Craving for oriental food.
Most important thing, personally, to come from military experience?
Thankful that I survived the war. I prayed every moment I had. I was frightened and so miserable from the rain, cold and swollen feet. When I was wounded and sent back to the field hospital, I accepted prayers from the chaplins of all faiths.
Additional information
Represented Camp Robinson in wrestling. Won the State of Arkansas AAU championship in Little Rock.

The following is an autobiography by Frank I. Mizufuka.

Frank I. Mizufuka

A month before the outbreak of the war, I entered the service from Whittier, CA, ending at Camp Roberts, CA via Fort McArthur, San Pedro, CA.

Prior to my induction, I had been attending college and had anticipated going on to either San Jose State University or the University of Wisconsin on an athletic scholarship that was offered to me. While I was a member of the championship wrestling team at Fullerton College, I qualified for the western regional trials for a berth on the Olympic team. However, my future as a civilian was put on hold when I joined the army.

At Camp Roberts, I was assigned to Co. C, 83rd Training Battalion and underwent training for oversea combat. One weekend, I was given a pass to go home to Whittier. While at home, Pearl Harbor was attacked and all military personnel were being ordered to report back to base immediately. After reporting back, we were restricted to the area. We dug trenches and put on guard details around the clock.

Shortly, orders came through for all Japanese American soldiers to pack and be prepared to leave for a camp somewhere in the interior. We boarded a troop train and headed east; our destination turned out to be Camp Robinson, just out of Little Rock, AR. Some Japanese Americans from other West Coast camps were being sent here. We went through another basic training while others left for overseas assignments. After basic training, the Japanese Americans were detained and assigned duties at different detachments vacated by those leaving. I became a clerk in the orderly room of the commanding officer at headquarters detachment.

During this time, I had the opportunity to participate in various sport activities and continued my wrestling, representing Camp Robinson in tournaments at Little Rock. I won the Arkansas State AAU title as well as other championships.

From headquarters, I was transferred to the station hospital detachment and assigned to the personnel office. As a sergeant, I was an overseer of civilian employees and military personnel in the medical discharge section. We processed and discharged those who were inducted into the services but later classified unfit for military duty due to medical reasons.

All mental patients being discharged were required escort detail to a facility nearest to their home. The detail consisted of two enlisted men and an officer in charge, each armed with a revolver. I went on a few of these assignments, especially, when the destination was near a relocation center. After releasing the patient to the civilian authorities, I visited the camp and spent a few days there before returning from my assignment. Around this time, I applied to become a commissioned officer in the personnel office but never knew the outcome since I left to join the 442nd.

Evacuees from Santa Anita, Tanforan and other assembly centers were rapidly occupying Rohwer and Jerome relocation camps in Arkansas. Coincidentally, my parents and other members of the family were sent to Rohwer from Santa Anita. Many weekends, a group of us rented a car and drove down to the camps. Jerome was our favorite because they had a USO and many hostesses to welcome the GIs. The USO was organized and led by the 'Sweetheart of the GIs', Mary Nakahara (now Yuri Kochiyama of New York).

The casualties of the 442nd were mounting and replacements were urgently needed. Once again, the Japanese American soldiers were on the move. However, given a choice, those who wanted to remain behind could do so. We left our luxuries behind and boarded a troop train for Fort McClellan, AL. Others arrived from camps around the country, and as we undertook another training, we were a battalion in strength. At the completion of several months of rigorous training, we were given furloughs. Knowing that this would be our last furlough before going overseas, I went back to Rohwer to say goodbye to my parents. After returning to camp, we packed and prepared to move out. We boarded a train and headed for Camp Shelby, MS. It was a short stop at Shelby; we were soon on our way to Fort Meade, MD. After a few days at Fort Meade, we boarded a train for Camp Patrick Henry, VA. We knew this was going to be our last stop as Patrick Henry was the port of embarkation for troops leaving for the European Theater of Operation.

On August 24, 1944, we left the states and headed out on the Atlantic with a hugh convoy of ships escorted by destroyers. After a lengthy voyage, we entered the Mediterranean Sea and docked at Oran, Algiers for a brief stop. Leaving Oran, we sailed into the port of Naples, Italy. Disembarking, we joined the 442nd unit at the staging area near Bagnoli, on the outskirts of Naples. Here, I was assigned to the 1st squad, 3rd platoon of Co. F. Platoon leader was Lt Harold Brown, T/Sgt Jimmy Shimizu, platoon Sgt. and S/Sgt Choki Yara was the squad leader. S/Sgt Nobuo Kokame was acting platoon leader when Sgt. Shimizu was wounded.

From Naples, we boarded a transport ship and sailed up the coast of Italy to the port of Marseilles, France. A few days at the staging area just out of Marseilles, we boarded railroad cars and truck convoys and moved northerly up France to a staging area approaching the Vosges Mountains. On October 15, 1944, we received our baptism under fire as we advanced through the forest to engage the enemy. It took several days of fierce fighting before we routed the foe and reclaimed Bruyeres, our objective.

On the 21st of October, the O'Conner Task Force was conceived and put into operation, led by Campanies F and L to flank the enemy and attack them from the rear. We advanced toward our objective under the cover of early morning darkness. Shortly, after daybreak, we approached a clearing with some farmhouses scattered throughout the valley. Beyond the farmhouses, at the far end of the meadow, a German tank appeared. The tank kept us from advancing. The Bazooka Team was summoned. Tito Okamoto and I crawled up to the barn of one of the farmhouses and fired two rounds from our bazooka, but to no avail, as the tank countered with a couple rounds of its 88mm tank gun. The second round from the tank was a direct hit on the barn where we had taken cover. Both of us were seriously wounded. The medics were summoned, and German prisoners, we had previously captured in one of the farmhouses, carried us on litters to an awaiting jeep. I was taken back to a field hospital for emergency surgery, and later back to a hospital at Epinal, France.

After a couple of months at Epinal, I was taken further back on the Madelaine Carrol Express to Dijon, France. At Dijon, I remained in the hospital until I was notified that I would be flying back to the states. I was taken on a litter to an air base. There, after lying the entire day at the air base, they determined that lung and respiratory patients were not autthrized to travel by air due to high altitude. I returned to Dijon, and shortly thereafter, I was taken back further to a hospital in Aix, a short distance from Marseilles. It was another couple of months in the hospital at Aix, when I was informed that I would be going home. I was put on board a hospital ship at the port of Marseilles and finally departed for the states.

On March of 1945, after crossing the ocean, we entered New York harbor, sailed alongside the Statue of Liberty, up the harbor, docking at Camp Shanks, NJ. The following night, some local Niseis invited us to a welcome home party at the Club 400, 5th Avenue and 43rd, New York City, where band leader Tommy Dorsey joined us for a picture taking.

Leaving Camp Shanks, I travelled on the last leg of my journey, headed for Percy Jones General Hospital, Fort Custer, MI. Here at Percy Jones, I awaited a post operation to remove shrapnel, which was still in my lung.

Recovering from surgery and while still on convalescence, I requested transfer to the personnel office at the medical detachment, thus, earning additional stripes. The board of medical doctors approved my recovery, and on June of 1945, I opted for a discharge from the service.

Chicago was where I wanted to settle, but first, I boarded a train and headed for Rohwer Relocation Center to see my folks. Camp Robinson was on my way, so I stopped and visited the station hospital to see those who remained behind. Improvements were noticeable. Where promotions were suppressed and denied most Japanese American before we left, now they had responsible positions and ratings. The 1st/Sgt. of the hospital detachment now was one of those who chose to remain behind. He took me to see the commanding officer (still the same) of the detachment. He shook my hand and looked at me in amazement with all the citations and ribbons on my uniform. He said if I ever wanted to come back, I was welcome. I bid them goodbye and continued on my way to Rohwer.

Although the War Department notified my parents at the time that I became a casualty, the notice did not reveal the extent of the injuries. Consequently, they were anxious to see me at the same time apprehensive about my condition. They wondered if I was coming on crutches, minus a limb or other disfigurement. At the end of the week I bid my parents goodbye and left Rohwer.

Chicago was where many evacuees had settled. There were organizations, social and other events, established Japanese communities, both on the north and south sides of the city. About this time, Earl Finch of Hattiesburg, MS, who entertained the JA soldiers when they trained at Camp Shelby, was gathering groups of wounded returning veterans and giving parties at different cities close to hospitals where they were recovering. Around twenty of us were guests at a party given for us at the Stevens Hotel, one of the finest in Chicago. I continued my schooling in engineering at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Later, was employed by General American Transportation Corp, makers of tank and box railroad cars.

In 1950, after getting married, I returned to Los Angeles, CA. My first venture was in insurance. I started an insurance agency handling life, accident, health, and casualty coverages.

MGM studios was about to produce the film 'Go For Broke'. During casting, priority was given to former members of the 442nd RCT. We were on locations and studio scenes for over two weeks. It was like being in the army all over agin. We wore GI clothes, played poker and rolled the dice whenever we were not on call.

The next fifteen years were spent engineering in electronics and space systems at Hoffman Electronics, LA and TRW Space Systems, Redondo Beach. The most notable one was being part of the team on the Apollo Moon Landing Project. This was an all out undertaking, a race with the Russians to land the first spacecraft on the moon. This was President Kennedy's pet project; for all those involved, we received a letter of commendation from the president for our outstanding effort.

Despite the highly successful moon landing, the nation faced a recession during the 1970's. The defense and space programs were curtailed or cancelled entirely. Many of us soon found ourselves out on the street without the prospect of getting back into these areas in the forseeable future.

Being an early casualty, after six days of combat while with the 442nd, I didn't get to know the others in the outfit. Consequently, it never occurred to me to join the Fox Company club. At it turned out, Fox Co. was one of the more active clubs within the veterans groups. Our northern contingent, the San Francisco Bay Area combined and made Fox Co. active statewide. Each year, we looked forward to our get together with our northern members.

With the recession setting in and no signs of a turnaround, I decided to seek opportunity in other areas and moved to San Francisco. Here, I entered the retail-merchandising field, first by helping my friend at his store and eventually purchasing the business. The store was situated in the prime tourist area adjoining Fishermans Wharf. Ghirardelli Square had been an abandoned chocolate factory, converted into a complex of retail stores and eateries. Tourists, conventioneers, and others visited the square. Ghirardelli chocolate was familiar to everyone including tourists visiting from other countries. The theme of my store was yesteryears decor and merchandise, old fashion and nostalgic items.

After twenty years in retail merchandising at Ghirardelli Square and elewhere, I retired and settled on the peninsula. I keep physically active by participating in the senior olympic games, play golf and do some fishing. I attend classes in painting and do some travelling. I have attended only the last two Fox Co. reunions and look forward to attend more in the future.

Frank I. Mizufuka, Past President Fox Company, Southern California Chapter

Please ask to review Mr. Miizufuka's autobiography with additional photos, newspaper articles, commendations, letters and other mementoes of his life.

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