Susumu “Sus” Ito

(1919 - 2015) Nisei who served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

Growing up in segregated schools Feeling prejudice while looking for jobs Joining the army Generosity of the Italians Animosity between the Hawaiians and the mainlanders Being scared during combat Never feared that he wouldn’t come back home On saving the Lost Battalion Coming home to his mother after the war Getting a PhD under the G.I. Bill Invited to teach at Harvard by his boss Feeling at peace with himself

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Susumu “Sus” Ito was born in 1919 in Stockton, California, to Japanese immigrants, Sohei and Hisayo Ito. Like many other Japanese American families in their community, the Itos worked as tenant farmers, sharecropping to harvest celery, beets, and asparagus. Sus Ito grew up with few luxuries.

In 1940, at twenty-one years old, Ito was drafted into the military—before America’s direct involvement in World War II. Initially, he was assigned to a non-segregated Quartermaster truck and vehicle maintenance unit at Camp Haan near Riverside, California. During the war, he served as a Lieutenant in the “C” Battery of the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion while his family was held in the American concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. After World War II, he studied Biology with the help of the G.I. Bill and later received his PhD in Biology and Embryology. A pioneer in his field, Dr. Ito joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1960, and has been professor emeritus since 1991.

He passed away on September 2015 at age 96. (September 2015)

442nd community school segregation veteran education mechanics prejudice World War II army military Native Americans Germans Italians wine hawaiians training combat hero lost battalion family post-war college G.I. Bill Harvard professor

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