Army logistics ship honors WWII hero
The shallow-draft cargo hauler is named for an isle Medal of Honor winner
As an Army support vessel made its way to Pearl Harbor last week, retired state Sen. Joseph "Jumbo" Kuroda said his brother has come home.
The 314-foot support vessel was christened in Pascagoula, Miss., three years ago, and named after his brother, Army Staff Sgt. Robert T. Kuroda, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Joe Kuroda recalled.
On Tuesday, the $32 million support vessel completed its first voyage to Pearl Harbor, where Robert Kuroda had been denied a job as an electrician after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack because he had been classified as an "enemy alien."
The vessel will be commissioned on Aug. 26 with Kuroda's sister -- Betty Hill -- giving the traditional order to the sailors on the pier to "Man your station. Bring the Kuroda to life."
GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The surviving Kuroda brothers -- Joe, Donald, and Ronald -- were at the Pearl Harbor channel Tuesday for the arrival of an Army Reserve logistic support vessel named after their brother, Robert.
More than 70 Kuroda family members -- 15 of them from the mainland -- will attend the Army commissioning ceremonies.
Brig. Gen. John Ma, Pacific Army Reserve commander, will be the guest speaker; along with Ron Oba, president of the 442nd Veterans Club. Kuroda was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most highly decorated Army unit for its size in World War II.
Donald Kuroda, 90, said "it's quite an honor" to have a military vessel name after his brother.
"This means he didn't die in vain. He wanted to work at Pearl Harbor after graduating from trade school, but he was denied the job because of his ancestry. He would have been a first-class citizen."
Don Kuroda said he also volunteered to fight, but his request was deferred because he was working for the government at the underground fuel storage facilities at Red Hill.
"This is a very good tribute," Don Kuroda said.
In 1943 Robert Kuroda volunteered, as did his three other brothers -- Ronald, Wallace and Joe. Robert Kuroda was the sixth of seven sons of Toyoichi and Sekino Kuroda.
Robert Kuroda -- a staff sergeant with H Company, 2nd Battalion -- was killed in France by a sniper on Oct. 20, 1944 -- just two weeks before his 22nd birthday -- while trying to take out a German machine-gun nest near Bruyeres during the rescue of Texas' "Lost Battalion."
A 1940 Farrington High School graduate, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest U.S. medal for valor, after the Medal of Honor.
Nearly six decades later, in June 2000, with under legislation drafted by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, Robert Kuroda and 21 other Asian Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony presided over by President Clinton. Legislation written by Akaka forced the military to examine the war records of 53 Distinguished Service Crosses and one Silver Star won by 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team soldiers.
Brother Ronald Kuroda, 88, was one of the original members of the 100th Battalion. Watching his brother's namesake sail by, Ronald Kuroda, who also earned the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II, jokingly said: "It looks so plain."
The Kuroda is the 9th Regional Support Command's first ship and will join two active-duty Army support vessels, Clinger and Gross, at new piers and facilities belonging to Army Reserve's 548th Transportation Detachment. The $11 million building is shared with the active Army's 545th Harbormaster Office Detachment on Hickam Air Force Base side of Pearl Harbor at Bishop Point.
Chief Warrant Officer David Fiel, Kuroda's skipper, said the Kuroda will move cargo and soldiers between Oahu and the Big Island for maneuvers at the Pohakuloa Training Area and Marines from Kaneohe Bay to Kauai.
The Clinger and Gross at 271 feet are shorter than the Kuroda, the seventh vessel in the Frank S. Besson class of logistic support vessels.
"It's basically a 2006 model," Feil said, "compared to the two other Army ships which are 1992 models."
The Kuroda is designed to carry 2,000 tons of cargo such as tanks, equipment, fuel and vehicles and can sail more than 6,500 nautical miles without refueling. It is 60 feet wide and can haul 24 tanks and 40 to 50 Stryker combat vehicles. Kuroda's crew of eight warrant officers and 23 enlisted soldiers are all reservists. There are now six support vessel in the Army's fleet, with three more being built or planned.
The Army said because of its shallow draft, the Kuroda is suited to tactical resupply missions in remote and undeveloped coastlines and inland waterways with unimproved beaches. Part of the Pacific Command, the Kuroda will do similar tasks near South Korea, Kuwait and Iraq.
A parade ground at Fort DeRussy also is named after Robert Kuroda.
Logistical Support Vessel Staff Sgt. Robert T. Kuroda
2,00 tons; 10,500 square feet
5,500 nautical miles
Source: U.S. Army