EJI SUYAMA (ARMY)

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from Harland Hermann, MD

WWII US Army 2nd Bn. 442 Infantry

Rapid City, SD

 
He got to Carrara a week or so before I did--had led one of the first infantry patrols to arrive there.  Earlier in the war he also was in France in the Vosges Campaign where the company he was in was reduced from some 200 to just over 20.  We did not meet in Italy.

     He 'got back', got to attend Med School and become a surgeon.  We never met till I found out he was at Fort Meade on the surgical staff there the past few years.  We did get acquainted and spent some times together.  

     The obituary [Rapid City Journal] prepared by his children is eloquent about what he was like.  Something I note:  he died on my 90th birthday, June 8,[2009] now many weeks ago.  We had not met again during the past 2-3 years, but we exchanged books occasionally and I am happy to add that he still has one of mine and I have one of his. 

____________

     US Army veteran Dr. Eji Suyama of Sturgis worked at the  Fort Meade Veterans Hospital from 1994 until his retirement in 2008, following a career in hospitals along the Maine coast. An interviewer once asked him "Wasn't Fort Meade the final post of General Custer?" to which Dr. Suyama replied, "Well, actually, he never made it back."

     Born the son of hardworking Japanese immigrants in 1920, he graduated from the University of Washington, then, anticipating the coming war, joined the U.S. Army. He was an individual in the Nisei (First Japanese-American) generation.

     He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team comprised entirely of Japanese-Americans, distinguished himself in combat in Italy and France and was awarded the Silver Star [click for Suyama's citation] for gallantry in action. Along the way he also gained status as an honorary Texan for helping rescue the "Lost Battalion," a surrounded Texas battalion, in one of the costliest (it can be argued, in terms of percentage of casualties) military encounters in U.S. history.

     His company unit sustained nearly unbelievable losses by directly and ceaselessly engaging the enemy in close combat for five days until a breakthrough was achieved.

After the war, he received his medical degree with honors in 1950 from University of Chicago School of Medicine.