Branch: Army ** Served In: WWII
Jim Tazoi joined the National Guard in May 1941 and was told that after one year of service, he would be released. But December 7, 1941 changed that.
After being sent to Fort Sam Houston, he asked to return home to assist his aging parents. Permission was granted. Tazoi was under the impression he had been discharged but actually, he had been placed in the inactive reserves.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Tazoi, along with a battalion of Japanese-American soldiers, were recalled. Tazoi’s regiment, the 442nd, fought with the 100th Battalion in Italy just before the fall of Rome. They were then pulled off the front lines. With no idea where they were going, the 442nd left Italy, bound for France. The 442nd subsequently engaged in many battles for several weeks.
On October 27, the 442nd was called to rescue the 36th Battalion which had become surrounded by German troops. Rescue of the “Lost Battalion” has been described as “one of the ten most fiercely fought battles in American war history.” Tazoi’s K Company suffered particularly heavy losses – only 18 of 180 men were left after three days.
Tazoi, a radio operator, was burdened with a 40-pound radio. Still, he joined a bayonet charge against a strongpoint. Spotting a machine gun position and disregarding his own safety, he attacked. Later, he rushed to the aid of two comrades who were being attacked by German grenadiers. Although wounded by a sniper, he persisted in the fight until wounded a second time by a concussion grenade. Tazoi then spent eight months in field hospitals, European hospitals, as well as hospitals in the United States. He recovered, but still carries shrapnel in his hip.
Despite his courage in battle and allegiance to the United States, upon traveling home after the war, Tazoi was refused service at a restaurant even though he was dressed in full uniform. Today, he lives in Garland, Utah.
By Cadet Michael Arthur Kinsel, Army ROTC