Tsutomu “Tommie” Okabayashi
442nd RCT


Tsutomu “Tommie” Okabayashi, a native Texan, joined the 442 nd Regimental Combat unit in the spring of 1943 at the age of 18. He trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and fought in Italy and France with the Cannon Company. His unit rescued a battalion in France made up of Texans, known as the Lost Battalion. Tommie is affectionately called “Tex” by his fellow Cannoneers, even today when the Unit meets for their annual reunion.

He has been quoted as saying, “My father had mixed feelings when I went into the 442 unit. But I felt it was my duty. And I hoped it would make life better for my family in Houston.”* While in the Army, Tommie received the Bronze Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal for Combat Infantryman Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, the American Campaign Medal, four Battle Stars on European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the WWII Victory Medal.


Tommie returned home to north Houston from the European front on New Year's Eve 1945.

Upon returning to Texas after being discharged from the Army, Tommie worked on the family vegetable farm in North Houston. He later worked as a Union brick-mason and an auto mechanic. He married Setsumi Helen Kawamoto in 1946 (died in 1980) and together they had four children: Harry Victor (1948), Emily Miyako (1950), Daniel Kenji (1951), and Shirley Mae(1952). He has enjoyed fishing in the Gulf, bowling which he still does three times a week, and playing card games.

* Quoted from the article, “Farms lured Japanese here” Houston Chronicle , Sunday December 1, 1991.