|Born||January 15 1917|
|Died||March 13 1988|
|Birth Location||Waialua, O'ahu, Hawaii|
Member of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the highest ranking Japanese American field officer in the U.S. Army during World War II; also the first Japanese American to become a vice president in a Big Five company. Mitsuyoshi Fukuda (1917–88) was born in Waialua, O'ahu, where his father worked as a carpenter at the Waialua Sugar Company. Evicted by the plantation in the midst of the 1920 strike, the family settled in Honolulu, where Mitsuyoshi graduated from McKinley High School . He graduated from the University of Hawai'i's College of Agriculture in 1939, but could not find a suitable job. He returned to school for a teacher's certificate and was teaching at Konawaena High School on the Big Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Having joined the ROTC in college, he was called to duty after the attack, assigned to F Company of the 299th Infantry , where he guarded the Hilo Airport. Along with other Japanese American members of the 298th and 299th, he became part of the 100th Infantry Battalion when it was formed in June of 1942. He became a platoon leader prior to shipping out and was promoted to captain in January 1944. In Europe, he was part of many fierce battles including the Battles of Monte Cassino, Anzio, and Belvedere, receiving a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. Despite this, he was never wounded, one of only a few original 100th Battalion members who could make that claim. In May of 1945, he was promoted to battalion commander and eventually was named commanding officer of the 100th and its executive officer. He was the last member of 100th to leave Europe.
Upon his return to Hawai'i, joined Castle & Cooke, one Hawai'i's famed Big Five companies, as an assistant to the manager of industrial relations, the type of position Japanese Americans were not being hired for prior to the war. He would remain at Castle & Cooke for 36 years, breaking another barrier when he became the vice president of industrial relations in 1966. He was also active in Club 100, the 100 Battalion's alumni group, serving as its president for two terms. He passed away on March 13, 1988.
For More Information
Crost, Lyn. Honor by Fire: Japanese Americans at War in Europe and the Pacific . Novato, CA: Presidio, 1994.
Duus, Masayo. Unlikely Liberators: The Men of the 100th and the 442nd . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.
Hazama, Dorothy Ochiai, and Jane Okamoto Komeiji. Okage Sama De: The Japanese in Hawai'i . Foreword by Daniel Inouye. Honolulu: Bess Press, 1986. Revised Edition. Honolulu Bess Press, 2008.
"Major Fukuda Given Command of 100th Infantry Battalion." Pacific Citizen , August 11, 1945. http://ddr.densho.org/ddr-pc-17-32/ .
Markrich, Michael. "Mitsuyoshi Fukuda: Born to Lead." 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Education Center, http://www.100thbattalion.org/history/veterans/officers/mitsuyoshi-fukuda/ .
Oda, Lorraine. "Battles Not Only in Combat." Hawaii Herald , June 4, 1982, pp. 4, 5, 19.
Last updated Oct. 16, 2020, 4:54 p.m..