Kazuto “Kaz” Taniguchi, age 96, resident of Gardena, Calif., passed away peacefully at his home in Gardena on May 12, 2022. He was born to Kanhichi and Harumi Taniguchi in Salinas, California, where the family farmed. On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent thousands of Japanese Americans to internment camps. The Taniguchi family was sent to the Poston, Ariz. internment camp from 1942 to 1945. Once released from camp the family moved to Bridgeton, N.J. to start a new life.
In 1944 during World War II, Kaz was inducted into the United States Army, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, L Company at 18 years old. He was trained as a rifleman at Camp Shelby, Miss., which prepared him for the battles and campaigns in the North Apennines, Po Valley, and Rhineland. When the war was over Kaz went to Bridgeton to join his family.
He met and married Mitty Matsui, his loving wife of 66 years, in New Jersey and eventually the cold weather prompted them to move back to Southern California to raise their family.
His greatest gift in life was being a dad, spending time with family, going on vacations, and watching and coaching Sansei League baseball and Friends of Richard (F.O.R.) basketball. For over 40 years he was a devoted Ford Motor Company mechanic. His interests included golfing, gardening, woodworking, learning new things, going to the casinos, eating Chinese food, Philly’s Best cheesesteak, Shake Shack cheeseburger, Philippe’s French dipped sandwich and drinking Coke.
A special memory for Kaz occurred on November 2, 2011, when the United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service. The country finally recognized the extreme conditions under which the Japanese American soldiers served and their valiant sacrifices on the battlefield while their families were incarcerated in internment camps. During this time of discrimination these veterans’ loyalty and allegiance was questioned, but they chose to exemplify what it truly means to be an American and fight for their families and their country.
Kaz is predeceased by his wife, Mitty and survived by his children, son, Warren Taniguchi (Lisa Tanaka); daughter, Lori Taniguchi (Terry Stewart); son, Larry Taniguchi; daughter, Pat Taniguchi. He is also survived by his sister, Yasuye “Babe” Kato; and many nieces, nephews and relatives. His parents, Kanhichi and Harumi Taniguchi; siblings and in-laws, Hatsumi (Ben) Ogata, Suzie (Minoru “Min”) Takata, Itsuko (Mark) Asada, Natsuko “Nattie” (Flavio) Ciferri, Torao “Jim” (Teiko) Taniguchi and Henry Kato preceded him in death. He was a special man and will be deeply missed by everyone that knew him.
A private service will held at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach.