b. 16/02/1922 Gardena, California. d. 26/06/1944 near Suvereto, Italy.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 26/06/1944 near Suvereto, Italy.
Muranaga was born in California to Japanese immigrant parents. He is a Nisei, which means that he is a second generation Japanese-American. He was raised as one of the oldest of 9 other siblings in what is now Gardena, California.
He was interned with his family at the Granada War Relocation Center in Colorado following the signing of Executive Order 9066.
Muranaga joined the US Army in May 1943. Muranaga volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army unit was mostly made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland. Muranaga was killed on the first day of action for the 442nd in Italy.
For his actions in June 1944, he was posthumously awarded the Army’s second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross. A 1990s review of service records for Asian Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II led to Muranaga’s award being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000, his surviving family was presented with his Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton. Twenty-one other Asian Americans also received the medal during the ceremony, all but seven of them posthumously.
Muranaga, aged 22 at his death, was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 26 June 1944, near Suvereto, Italy. Private First Class Muranaga’s company encountered a strong enemy force in commanding positions and with superior firepower. As enemy 88mm self-propelled gun opened direct fire on the company, causing the men to disperse and seek cover. Private First Class Muranaga’s mortar squad was ordered to action, but the terrain made it impossible to set up their weapons. The squad leader, realizing the vulnerability of the mortar position, moved his men away from the gun to position s of relative safety. Because of the heavy casualties being inflicted on his company, Private First Class Muranaga, who served as a gunner, attempted to neutralized the 88mm weapon alone. Voluntarily remaining at his gun position, Private First Class Muranaga manned the mortar himself and opened fire on the enemy gun at a range of approximately 400 yards. With his third round, he was able to correct his fire so that the shell landed directed in front of the enemy gun. Meanwhile, the enemy crew, immediately aware of the source of mortar fire, turned their 88mm weapon directly on Private First Class Muranaga’s position. Before Private First Class Muranaga could fire a fourth round, an 88mm shell scored a direct hit on his position, killing him instantly. Because of the accuracy of Private First Class Muranaga’s previous fire, the enemy soldiers decided not to risk further exposure and immedinately abandoned their position. Private First Class Muranaga’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: EVERGREEN CEMETERY, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
SECTION A, LOT 2734.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.