U.S. Army - 442nd R.C.T.
World War II
Brick #315 Wall Location Column: 35 Row: 19
Jun Watanabe was born August 25, 1918 in Salem, OR to Suyekichi and Chiyo (Saito) Watanabe. Jun was the second to the youngest son with two sisters and three brothers one of whom died at the age of 5. Jun attended Salem High School and spent the summer in 1937 on the fishing ship “Cordova” working for the canneries in Juneau and Ketchikan Alaska with his brother Taul. After graduating high school, Jun continued his education by attending Moler Barber College in Seattle and Bernley School of Arts which was located on Broadway in Seattle.
While attending Moler Barber College, Jun was staying with his sister Hoshie and brother-in-law Shizuo Yamada in Seattle. In August 1940, Jun met Haruko (Hark) Kozu whose family owned a grocery store in the neighborhood. Jun and Haruko announced their engagement February 14, 1941 and were wed in Seattle on Saturday, March 15, 1941.
In May 1942, Jun and Hark were evacuated from their home and housed at a temporary camp at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. In June, they were sent by train to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, ID. They were together until May 19, 1944 when Jun was drafted into the U.S. Army. Place of entry was Ft. Douglas, UT.
From May-August 1944, Jun went through Basic Infantry Training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. During Basic Training, he ranked as Private for 3 months; Private First Class (PFC) Rifleman for 14 months; and advanced to Sergeant (Sgt) Assistant Squad Leader. He was assigned to Company F, 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team with the military qualification of Expert M1 Rifle.
Jun served with Company F, 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team in the North Apennines, Po Valley and Rhineland campaigns. He was second in command of a 12-man rifle squad and was responsible for and in full command of the squad in the absence of the squad leader. He participated in both day and night operations with the trained skill to handle the M1 rifle, carbine, automatic rifle, rocket launcher, light and heavy machine guns, light and heavy mortars, submachine gun and 45 caliber pistol. He had good knowledge of squad control, practical camouflage techniques and basic infantry tactics.
Jun was awarded the American Theater Service Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal; Distinguished Unit Badge with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster; Good Conduct Medal and the Victory Medal. Jun received an honorable discharge on January 31, 1946. His place of separation was the Ft. Lewis WA Separation Center.
In February 1946, Jun, Hark and Nancy were reunited and re-established residency in Seattle. There, Jun and Hark continued to grow and raise a family of 5 children: Nancy, Daryl, Russell, Beth and Byron.
On June 22, 1949, Jun secured a business license to open Jun’s Barbershop on 1039 Jackson Street in Seattle, WA. For the next 21 years at his Jackson Street location, he enjoyed cutting hair and talking about anything from politics to cars with his many friends. In January 1970, he was forced to move his barbershop to 1951 South Atlantic Street where he remained open until 1978. Jun received from the State of Washington, Certificates of Achievement for the Practice of Barbering from March 1970-1973. He was awarded in recognition of the high standards he maintained in sanitation and for his faithful adherence to the laws, rules and regulations. Ultimately, it was an amazing lifetime achievement to be able to use his training from Barber College to support and raise a family of 5 children.
Jun had many interests. He enjoyed art especially drawing in charcoal. He was also into physical fitness, running 5-10 miles a day, lifting weights and swimming at the YMCA. Jun had a passion for cars. He had the best time fixing up an old 1968 XKE and he took tremendous pride in the brand new 1970 Z car that he drove right off the showroom floor. He was known to predict and document the weather patterns in Seattle. He was also interested in collecting silver dollars and taking road trips to Reno with Hark.
In September 1980, Jun succumbed to bone cancer. Jun and Hark were married for 39 years.
- Highest rank attained: Sergeant
- Position: Infantry/Assistant Squad Leader 745
- Enlisted: 1944 - 1946