Math teacher made history
as Army Guard general

Francis Shigeo Takemoto / 100th battalion veteran


By Pat Gee

Francis Shigeo Takemoto, veteran of the famed 100th Infantry Battalion and the first American of Japanese ancestry to reach the rank of brigadier general, died in his sleep Sunday in Honolulu. He was 89.

Takemoto was a math teacher before serving in the Army during World War II and was later principal of Aliamanu and Manoa elementary schools.

As an infantry lieutenant in Anzio, Italy, he was hit in the head with shrapnel, according to his friend Denis Teraoka, who was about 300 yards away.

The battle wound earned Takemoto a Purple Heart. For his military service, he also was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Bronze Star, the Asiatic-Pacific Medal, a European Theater medal with four battle stars, a Victory Medal and a Presidential Citation with cluster.

Takemoto was a role model for other soldiers, Teraoka said.

"When you see someone like Francis, who didn't show any fear and had good control of himself, we wanted to follow in his footsteps. He gave us confidence. He was an excellent soldier," Teraoka said.

Takemoto was "like an older brother" when they met in 1944. "I depended on him to help me out," Teraoka said. He served as Teraoka's best man at his wedding.

After the war, Takemoto helped reorganize the headquarters of the Hawaii National Guard's 299th Infantry Battalion on the Big Island and was promoted to major.

He later became commander of the 2nd Battalion, 298th Infantry, then took over the 1st Battalion at the guard headquarters at Fort Ruger.

Later he became executive officer for the 29th Infantry Brigade, with the rank of colonel. His promotion to brigadier general soon followed.

When then-Gov. John A. Burns pinned on his general's stars, it was one of the proudest moments in Takemoto's life, according to a 1964 news story. His wife, Gladys C. Uyeno, also helped pin on the stars.

A math teacher by training, Takemoto became a principal at Aliamanu Elementary School in 1957 and later Manoa Elementary in 1965. After spending a full day at school, he would change into his uniform for his second career.

According to Teraoka, the general "wasn't the type of guy to be satisfied being just a schoolteacher. He continued to be a leader in the National Guard. He was full of energy and always looking for something to do to better himself."

Takemoto, son of Japanese immigrants, graduated from McKinley High School in 1935 and attended the University of Hawaii. He earned a teaching degree in 1940 from Santa Barbara State College.

He is survived by daughter Carol Dee Nishimura, son Harvey, sisters Elsie Sumida and Sue Awada, and six grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. June 9 at Hosoi Garden Mortuary.

E-mail to City Desk


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