Shigeru Inouye was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1919 to Kyohei and Fushi Inouye. The seventh and youngest child in his family, he had four brothers and two sisters. During his youth, he was a member of Boy Scout Troop 13 and a member of the Japanese Rowing Club based at the Ala Wai Boat House. He also played tennis and the violin.
A student at McKinley High School and the University of Hawaii, Shigeru was drafted into the U.S. Army on November 15, 1941. On December 7, he was in basic training at Schofield Barracks when the Pearl Harbor Naval Base was attacked by Japan.
An original member of the 100th Infantry Battalion, he initially trained with the battalion’s D Company at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and Camp Shelby, Mississippi. After the battalion was shipped to Europe, he became a Combat Aid Man attached to a rifle platoon in C Company. Shigeru participated in the battle at Cassino, Italy and was shot in the line of duty while performing his responsibilities as a medic. He was awarded a Purple Heart medal and a Silver Star medal for bravery. His Silver Star Citation was as follows:
Awarded to Technician Fifth Grade, SHIGERU INOUYE
“The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Technician Fifth Grade Shigeru Inouye, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Medical Aid Man with the Medical Detachment, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), attached to the 34th Infantry Division. On 9 February 1944, in the vicinity of Cassino, Italy, knowing he would certainly draw enemy sniper and machine gun fire, Technician Fifth Grade Inouye left his sheltered position to go to the aid of a wounded officer. German snipers immediately opened fire on him, but he continued on until he was wounded in the left arm and left eye and was physically unable to carry on. Technician Fifth Grade Inouye’s courageous devotion to duty was exemplary and a credit to the Military Service.”
As a result of Shigeru’s battle injuries and a 30 hour delay to get to the field hospital, he lost vision in his left eye and most of the use of his left arm and hand. He endured over three years of hospitalizations and reconstructive surgeries in Clinton, Iowa, and Menlo Park and Pasadena, California. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant while hospitalized.
After the war, Shigeru earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He returned to Hawaii and married Fumi Tokioka, a teacher at Kaiulani School, then went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in Investment Banking from New York University’s Stern Graduate School of Business. Back in Hawaii, he started his own investment firm, S. Inouye & Company, and then worked at Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley until his retirement in 1974.
Shigeru was active with his fellow Nisei veterans throughout his life. He was a life member and commander of the Disabled American Veterans of Hawaii and served as president of Club 100 in 1960. As a dedicated member of the Club’s Medics Chapter in Honolulu, Shigeru coordinated the refreshments for the Club’s annual memorial services at the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific for over 30 years. In April 2001, he was recognized for his service by Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris at the Mayor’s annual Senior Citizen Award Ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center.
In his Moanalua Gardens Community, Shigeru was very active in the Boy Scouts. Among his many roles, he served as a member of the Finance Committee of the Aloha Council Boy Scouts of America. For his leadership with scouting in Hawaii, Shigeru was honored with the Silver Beaver Award and elevated to the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor Distinction.
Shigeru’s lasting impressions of the acts of heroism, dedication and loyalty of his fellow Nisei comrades were: “Every combat man in the 100th Battalion did his level best to serve their units and their country. We all had to prove to ourselves that we were good soldiers and loyal Americans.”
Shigeru Inouye passed away in 2005. He is interred at Punchbowl Cemetery with many of his comrades from the 100th Infantry Battalion.
(submitted by his son Clinton K. Inouye, 12/12/2012.)