Wallace Tadashi Onuma

Headquarters Company

Wallace T. Onuma was born in Honolulu in May 1920. His father was from Niigata, Japan and came to Hawaii to work as a mason. From Miyagi,Japan, his mother moved to Hawaii with all of her siblings and mother. The third child and the oldest son, Wallace was raised in Pauoa Valley. As a teenager he helped his parents with business matters and acted as an interpreter since both of his parents did not speak or read English. He attended Hawaiian Mission Academy and graduated in 1939. When World War II broke out, the Onuma property in Pauoa Valley was confiscated by the government to build a gun embankment to protect Honolulu Harbor. Wallace’s father was interrogated by the FBI. When asked who he wanted to win the war, his response was “ America, because his son was in the U.S. Army.”

Wallace was drafted into the Army on November 15, 1941. Before leaving for training in the mainland, he was assigned to guard the Windward Coast of Oahu which included walking the Old Pali Road at night. Wallace was an original member of the 100th assigned to Company B first and then to Headquarters Company. He carried the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). He was wounded twice by road mines.

Wallace often told stories of his experiences during training in Mississippi, especially about not knowing where to sit when riding the bus. He would tell stories of Big Bertha and the sound of the projectiles traveling through the trees. His favorite story was when he was an MP in Monte Carlo. The GIs would try to disguise themselves by dressing in civilian clothes since they were not allowed in the casinos. Wallace would take a teenager into the casino and ask him to point out the Americans. He would also tell stories of every major campaign the 100th was involved in. At one time the Germans had them pinned down in a house for over 6 months. They were at the bottom of the hill with the Germans shooting at them from the top. They were finally able to overtake the Germans. He often spoke of the bravery of Major (Young Oak) Kim. He would comment that Major Kim was one crazy Korean! Major Kim would often take a unit behind enemy lines to conduct surveillance. The 100th would have been the first to enter Rome but were told to wait along the roadside while another unit rolled into the streets of Rome to receive all the glory.

After spending days crossing the Atlantic and arriving in New York City, he remembered they were discriminated against by Red Cross volunteers passing out cigarettes and candy. The volunteers would ignore the AJA soldiers. In Sacramento they were refused service because of their race. The store owners had large printed signs in the window for Japanese to keep out.

After the war, Wallace married Jane K. Miranda, daughter of George H. and Rose Trask Miranda. Jane was his high school sweetheart at Hawaiian Mission Academy. They were blessed with two sons, Malcolm and Lambert. Wallace worked for the U.S. Postal Service. After retirement, Wallace played golf, help take care of his grandchildren and enjoyed gardening and growing orchids. He loves watching every sports event on TV and enjoyed going to Vegas to bet on the games. Wallace is 92 years old (in 2012) and currently resides in Honolulu.