U.S. Army - 740th Tank Battalion
World War II
Brick #3055 Wall Location Column: 2 Row: 8
Tom Komatsu was born on 29 November 1918 in Hanna, Wyoming after his parents emigrated there from Japan. He was inducted into the U.S. Army only nine months before the end of the war in Germany. He left his wife, Flora and five-week-old son, Ronald waiting for him in Chicago.
The Army assigned Tom to a special unit, the 740th Tank Battalion for training on tanks. The unit had been tasked to undergo five months of special training in night-time warfare tactics with tanks. Tom became a driver as did many of the other men. As the army realized that the war was rapidly coming to an end, they cancelled the training program, assigned the 740th to a regular tank battalion and shipped most of them overseas. Part of the unit of tankers or "Daredevils" as they later came to be known played a key role in the famous Battle of the Bulge.
When his time finally came, Tom and the rest of the 740th were shipped overseas to join the other members of their battalion who had left months earlier. Tom and the remainder of the 740th arrived in Germany seven days after the end of the war.
The 740th tank battalion and many other units became know as the "Army of Occupation." Their duties changed from fighting to peacekeeping and helping the citizens rebuild Germany. The 740th was assigned to the town of Kassel, which is in the part of Germany that would later be occupied by the Russians.
Tom seldom talked about his army experiences but he did speak of one incident that seemed to have a profound effect on him. He said that he remembered passing out food to the German citizens who were "starving." He was very moved and said he still remembered the faces of the hungry children.
After about fifteen months, much of the Army of Occupation; including the 740th was transferred back to the United States. The soldiers who had fulfilled their obligations to the army became eligible for discharge. Tom's "Honorable Discharge" is dated July 14th 1946. While serving, Tom earned a few medals including the Victory medal, Army of Occupation medal, Good Conduct medal and two Overseas Service Bars.
After the war, Tom used the G.I. Bill to go to college and finish his education. He worked part time and took classes at night to complete his engineering degree. After graduation, the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hired Tom as an electrical engineer. It was 1954 and he decided to move his family to sunny Van Nuys, California to begin his new career.
Tom went on to have a distinguished career in the aerospace industry. He contributed to and witnessed many of the milestones in space exploration, the Cold War and the births of his first grand child, Jeffrey Komatsu and his first great granddaughter, Kiana Komatsu.
- Highest rank attained: Technical Sergeant 4
- Position: 740th Tank Battalion-tank driver
- Enlisted: 1944 - 1946