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Private First Class John Akimoto

  • Unit: 100th Infantry Battalion, Company C
  • Service Number: 37344336
  • Date of Birth: September 22, 1922
  • Entered the Military: March 26, 1943
  • Date of Death: August 2, 1944
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Award(s): Bronze Star
  • Cemetery: Plot A, Row 14, Grave 42. Lorraine American Cemetery, Saint-Avold, France
Contributed by Matthew Elms
Singapore American School

Early Life

John “Johnny” Akimoto was born on September 22, 1924 to Masanori and Mary “Miki” Shiratori Akimoto. He was the last of seven children and the youngest of four brothers. After spending his early years in Idaho Falls, Idaho, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, California in 1928. He attended 36th Street Elementary School, Forshay Junior High School, and Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. He planned to go on to college like his oldest brother, Ned. However, his plans were interrupted.

Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. A few weeks later, in early 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This executive order authorized the military to remove people from their homes that were considered “enemy aliens” of the United States, specifically, Japanese Americans along the West Coast. The U.S. government relocated Akimoto and his family to the Santa Anita Race Track Civilian Assembly Center.

The family used their Idaho connections to become farm laborers in the sugar beet fields near Lincoln, Idaho. Later, Akimoto and then his parents moved to the Amache Internment Camp in Colorado. On April 7, 1943, Akimoto was one of the first two volunteers for the 100th Infantry Battalion from the Amache Internment Camp.  

Military Experience

Akimoto received his basic training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. His brothers, Victor and Ted, and his brother-in-law, Bill Kajikawa, joined him there. At Camp Shelby, Akimoto received training as a machine gunner for the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, C Company. His first assignment was to replace troops destined for the Italian campaign.

Anzio, Italy

He served in the Battle of Anzio and the Rome to Arno Campaign in Italy. In late 1943, Akimoto landed on the beaches near Anzio, Italy. This was an important part of the southern European campaign for the Allies due to its close proximity to Rome. The objective was to capitalize on the victories in North Africa by continuing to pressure the Axis in southern Europe. By doing so, the Allies could better prepare for a full scale invasion at Normandy in summer 1944 and help to reduce the tremendous battering that the Russians were withstanding on the eastern front.

The battle for Anzio started in January 1944 and lasted for nearly five months. Akimoto’s unit replaced the troops killed or injured in the initial landings and battles. The terrain was terrible. The Allied troops were stuck in a vast marshland surrounded by German and Italian troops who could shoot from the hillsides. The battle saw nearly 40,000 Allied casualties, including 7,000 killed and 33,000 wounded or missing in action. While in combat, Akimoto earned a Bronze Star for his bravery.  


Private First Class Akimoto became ill and died of acute hepatitis on August 2, 1944. He was awarded the Bronze Star, European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Victory Medal, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Akimoto’s contributions helped the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team receive over 18,000 individual decorations making them the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. He is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France, the largest of the American World War II cemeteries in Europe. Next to him lies his brother, Private Victor Akimoto, in a section where 26 brothers are laid to rest. To learn more about the Akimoto family’s experiences during World War II, please download the book, When the Akimotos Went to War.



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“Akimoto and Yasuda will report to Denver April 6.” Granada Pioneer, March 31, 1943.

Akimoto Family Photographs. 1890 – 2011. Courtesy of Sara Akimoto.

Akimoto, Ted. Various Photographs from Japan. Photographs. 1945. World War II Road Show, University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Akimoto, Ted. “Memoirs of Theodore Akimoto.” Akimoto Family Collection. Boston, Massachusetts.

Akimoto, Theodore. “World War II Japan After the Surrender.” Photograph narration. Audio File, 8:32. WGBH Educational Foundation.

Akimoto, Ted, and K. Baishiki. “PFC. Johnny Akimoto.” Last modified 2001. Accessed March 17, 2015. Akimoto Family Collection.

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John Akimoto, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Army, RG 319, National Archives and Records Administration – St. Louis.

John Akimoto, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Department of the Army.

Letters from Johnny Akimoto to Akimoto Family Members, 1942 – 1944. Courtesy of Gay Sato.

Letters from Victor Akimoto to Akimoto Family Members, 1942 – 1944. Courtesy of Gay Sato.

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Memorial Service For Japanese American Soldiers Who Died In World War II. Photograph. c. 1945. Japanese American Archival Collection Imagebase, Sacramento State University.

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“Photo Gallery: Battalion Scrapbook.” The Honolulu Advertiser. Last modified June 17, 2007. Accessed February 22, 2015.

Records for Victor Akimoto; World War II Prisoners of War Data File, 12/7/1941-11/19/1946 [Electronic File], Records of the Office of the Provost Marshal General, Record Group 389; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD [retrieved from the Access to Archival Databases at, February 22, 2015].

“Rome-Arno Campaign.” Go for Broke National Education Foundation. Accessed February 22, 2015.

Sara Akimoto to Matthew Elms Email Correspondence, 2015. Courtesy of Matthew Elms.

Summer Akimoto to Matthew Elms Email Correspondence, 2015. Courtesy of Matthew Elms.

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This profile was researched and created with the Understanding Sacrifice program, sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission.