Akira Ted Teramae. (Photo courtesy of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022)
Akira Ted Teramae. (Photo courtesy of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022)

Akira Ted Teramae of Onomea, Hawai‘i Island, signed his draft registration card 82 years ago this month on July 1, 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor was bombed. Two years later, he was wounded in action in Italy on July 11. Six years later, on July 27, he was buried at Punchbowl, a wartime casualty.

Teramae was born on April 23, 1920, in Onomea. He was one of nine children of Kunizo and Haruno (Maeda) Teramae. Kunizo and Haruno were married in 1904 and emigrated two years later from Mibu-machi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Kunizo initially worked on the Kohala sugar cane plantation, but soon became a Buddhist priest and one of the founders of the Koboji Shingon Temple in Kapa‘au. Haruno worked on a coffee farm.

In 1936, the family moved to Honolulu, where Teramae attended Washington Intermediate School and the McCully Japanese Language School. He attended McKinley High School for three years. In 1940, Teramae was living with his family in Mō‘ili‘ili and working as a packer at the pineapple cannery and for a while as a driver for Honolulu Rapid Transit.

By the time Teramae signed his draft registration card, he was employed by Von Hamm-Young Co. Ltd. on Kapi‘olani Boulevard, where he was a clerk in the electrical department.

On March 24, 1943, Teramae enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was with the other new soldiers in the tent camp at Schofield Barracks, at the farewell ceremony at ‘Iolani Palace, and sailed on the S.S. Lurline on April 4 for California.

Once at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, for training, Teramae was assigned to 2nd Battalion, H Company. After nearly a year, on May 2, 1944, he and the rest of the 442nd RCT shipped out for the Theater of War.

The 442nd RCT entered combat on June 26, 1943, near Suvereto in the Rome-Arno Campaign. Teramae was wounded on July 11 during the battle to take Pastina. He was treated and returned to his unit. On Sept. 27, the 442nd RCT was sent to France to participate in the Rhineland-Vosges Campaign. Teramae participated in the liberation of Bruyères and the rescue of the Lost Battalion. He was wounded again in France, treated and returned to his company.

After the fierce fighting in the Vosges Mountains, the depleted ranks of the 442nd RCT were sent to the south of France to participate in the Rhineland-Maritime Alps Campaign, which was mostly a defensive position guarding the border with Italy.

On March 20 to 22, the 442nd RCT (minus the 522nd Artillery) left France for participation back in Italy in the Po Valley Campaign.

The 442nd RCT left their staging area and moved to a bivouac at San Martino, near the walled city of Lucca. Starting on April 3, the 442nd RCT conducted a surprise attack on the Germans at Mount Folgorito. By April 6 the 2nd Battalion had gained the ridge of Mount Folgorito and was poised for an attack on Mount Carchio and Mount Belvedere to the north, the peak that looked down on the city of Massa. By noon, F Company had reduced Mount Carchio while the rest of the 2nd Battalion began working on the wide, rolling top of Mount Belvedere, which was defended by the veteran troops of the crack Machine Gun Battalion Kesselring. The enemy battered the attackers with a steady stream of mortar fire.

Sergeant Teramae was wounded in action for the third time at Mount Belvedere on April 8, 1945. He was taken to an aid station with a bullet wound in the abdomen and given a transfusion of blood. He died and was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at Castelfiorentino in section Y, row 71, grave 3444.

The Teramae family held a memorial service at the Shingonshu Mission on Sheridan Street in Honolulu on April 27, 1945. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal at a private ceremony held at his home. He was later awarded the Silver Star Medal. The medal citation reads:

On the night of 8 April 1945, in the vicinity of Mount Belvedere, Italy, Sergeant Teramae’s machine gun squad sector was in danger of being overrun by an enemy patrol. Sergeant Teramae, without thought of personal risk, stood up and fired his submachine gun. Then he ran to the right to draw hostile fire away from his own men. A concentration of enemy fire fatally wounded him, but he continued firing until he could no longer stand. Sergeant Teramae’s actions enabled his men to drive off the 16-man enemy patrol.

On April 21, 1949, Teramae’s remains arrived on the USAT Jack J. Pendleton at Honolulu. There was a brief ceremony attended by hundreds of family and friends. Sergeant Teramae was reburied in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on July 27, 1949.

Researched and written by the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 2022, with assistance from the family.


Command Sergeant Major Henry Lee. (Photo by Gregg Kakesako)
Command Sergeant Major Henry Lee. (Photo by Gregg Kakesako)

Henry N. J. Lee, the first Korean American promoted to the highest enlisted rank — command sergeant major in the U.S. Army — loved the military so much that he lied about his age and enlisted at the age of 15 by altering his birth certificate and remained in uniform for quarter of a century through three wars.

On June 2, Lee was honored posthumously for his years of service to the military and the community of Wahiawa with the U.S. Army Pacific Mana O Ke Koa “Spirit of the Warrior” award. Lee was 92 when he died in January. His wife, Rose, said she was overwhelmed by the number of people her husband befriended, including 13 generals who attended his funeral in March.

Following the end of World War II, Lee was sent to Germany where he guarded prisoners of war. While in Germany, Rose Lee said her husband was a good friend with Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy. Following his retirement from the Army, Lee graduated from the University of Hawai‘i in 1974 and taught social studies at Nānākuli and Wai‘anae public schools for five years.

Gen. Charles A. Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, said Lee personifies Army values and praised his contribution to foster positive relations between the Army and island families.

Attending the Fort Shafter award ceremony were the couple’s five children: Laura Putzulu and her husband Paul; Henry Lee Jr. and his wife Cheryl; Lissa Collins; Leslie and her husband Ivan Miyashiro; and hanai daughter Terilynn Okumura.

Flynn described Henry Lee as “a friend and a constant source of support for not only the Army but also the local community. Henry was the living embodiment of selfless service – through his time in the Army, through his dedication to his family, to our veterans and to his Hawaiian community.”

The younger Henry Lee, said his father was “a military man, loved the military.”

Although the elder Lee enlisted in 1946 the Defense Department still considered him a veteran of World War II. He also was still in uniform during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and retired in 1969. Lee was promoted to sergeant major and was the senior enlisted adviser at the Noncommissioned Officers Academy in Bad Tolz in Germany. Lee received his Purple Heart after being injured in a helicopter crash in Vietnam.

The Lee family: Left -- Laura Putzulu and husband Paul, Henry Lee Jr. and wife Cheryl; Lissa Collins; Rose; Leslie Miyashiro and her husband Ivan; and hanai daughter Teri Okamura. (Photo by Gregg Kakesako)
The Lee family: Left — Laura Putzulu and husband Paul, Henry Lee Jr. and wife Cheryl; Lissa Collins; Rose; Leslie Miyashiro and her husband Ivan; and hanai daughter Teri Okamura. (Photo by Gregg Kakesako)

After leaving teaching, Lee worked for the state Department of Regulatory Agency overseeing eight professional and vocational licensing boards and commissions. He served for five years as chairman of the State Boxing Commission, retiring in 1989. Beginning in 1985, Lee served on the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board for 12 years and as its chair for six years. He was a member of the Hawaiian Korean Chamber of Commerce, which he chaired in 1984, Wahiawa Lions Club and a former ballroom dance instructor.

Rose Park Lee, 90, who had been wed to Henry for 69 years, is also an integral part of the island’s military as the owner of a tailor shop that catered to service members and their families for 45 years. The alteration shop was originally located at Fort Shafter, which she originally ran with her mother. The couple attended Leilehua High School. Rose Lee was affectionately known as the stars to the generals before she retired in 2013 since many general officers and regular officers had been her customers. Color portraits of appreciative customers including retired four-star general Kaua‘i’s Eric Shinseki to Sen. Daniel Inouye have hung on her walls.

Lee is the 17th individual to be honored. Past recipients are Inouye, Gov. Linda Lingle, entertainer Carole Kai, Congressman Mark Takai and Sen. Daniel Akaka.

— Written by Gregg K. Kakesako


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here