William K. Nakamura
|William Kenzo Nakamura|
Private First Class William Nakamura
|Born||January 21, 1922|
|Died||July 4, 1944
near Castellina[disambiguation needed], Italy
|Place of burial||Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park, Seattle, Washington|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1943–1944|
|Rank||Private First Class|
|Unit||442nd Regimental Combat Team|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
William Kenzo Nakamura (January 21, 1922 – July 4, 1944) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.
On July 4, 1944, Nakamura was serving as a private first class in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. On that day, near Castellina, Italy, he single-handedly destroyed an enemy machine gun emplacement and later volunteered to cover his unit's withdrawal. He was then killed while attacking another machine gun nest which was firing on his platoon.
For his actions in July 1944, he was posthumously awarded the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross. A 1990s review of service records for Asian Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II led to Nakamura's award being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000, his surviving family was presented with his Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton. Twenty-one other Asian Americans also received the medal during the ceremony, all but seven of them posthumously.
Medal of Honor citation
Private First Class Nakamura's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Private First Class William K. Nakamura distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 4 July 1944, near Castellina, Italy. During a fierce firefight, Private First Class Nakamura's platoon became pinned down by enemy machine gun fire from a concealed position. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura crawled 20 yards toward the hostile nest with fire from the enemy machine gun barely missing him. Reaching a point 15 yards from the position, he quickly raised himself to a kneeling position and threw four hand grenades, killing or wounding at least three of the enemy soldiers. The enemy weapon silenced, Private First Class Nakamura crawled back to his platoon, which was able to continue its advance as a result of his courageous action. Later, his company was ordered to withdraw from the crest of a hill so that a mortar barrage could be placed on the ridge. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura remained in position to cover his comrades' withdrawal. While moving toward the safety of a wooded draw, his platoon became pinned down by deadly machine gun fire. Crawling to a point from which he could fire on the enemy position, Private First Class Nakamura quickly and accurately fired his weapon to pin down the enemy machine gunners. His platoon was then able to withdraw to safety without further casualties. Private First Class Nakamura was killed during this heroic stand. Private First Class Nakamura's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
- US Army Center of Military History, "Medal of Honor Recipients, World War II (M-S)"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Hicks, Erin. "Our Back Pages: Final Honors," Columns (University of Washington Alumni Magazine). June 2004; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Hicks, "Our Back Pages"; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Japanese-American Internee Data File, 1942-1946 #15457D (Nakamura, William); retrieved 2012-12-7.
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WWII Army Enlistment Record #39918272 (Nakamura, William K.); retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Recipient Private First Class William K. Nakamura"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry" at Global Security.org; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "21 Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of Honor" at University of Hawaii Digital History; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Gomez-Granger, Julissa. (2008). Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2008, "Nakamura, William K.," p. 15 [PDF 19 of 44]; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "Army Secretary Lionizes 22 World War II Heroes" at Defense.gov
- William Kenzo Nakamura at Find a Grave