Firefighters and police officers gathered in front of Toke Yoshihashi’s home in San Gabriel to wish him well.

SAN GABRIEL — Tokuji “Toke” Yoshihashi of San Gabriel, a veteran of the 100th Infantry Battalion, was recently honored on the occasion of his 100th birthday.

On Jan. 8, San Gabriel firefighters and police officers gathered in front of Yoshihashi’s home to congratulate him and shake his hand.

When asked by ABC7 about his secret to longevity, he replied, “Everything in moderation. Don’t drink too much. I’m not a drinker anyway, but in the Army we used to drink a lot of beer. That’s about it.”

The Go For Broke National Education Center in Little Tokyo said on social media, “We extend our warmest wishes and deepest appreciation to this hero today.”

Technical Sgt. Yoshihashi was born in Pasadena on Jan. 8, 1923, the third of Goro and Setsu Yoshihashi’s five children. He attended high school in Pasadena and completed two years of study at Pasadena City College.

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he and his family were incarcerated by the U.S. government along with approximately120,000 other Japanese Americans. The Yoshihashi family was sent to the assembly center in Tulare, and in mid-1942 to an incarceration camp in Gila, Ariz.

In May 1944, Yoshihashi and his elder brother Ichiro were drafted into the U.S. Army while their family remained incarcerated. After basic training at Camp Blanding in Florida, he boarded the Queen Mary and sailed to Scotland. He joined the 100th Battalion in Epinal, France, and was sent to guard the Franco-Italian border.

In March 1945, the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team returned to Livorno, Italy to join the Fifth Army in its successful campaign to break the Gothic Line. The 100th/442nd remains the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in U.S. military history.

As a proud member of Company A, Yoshihashi celebrated V-E Day in Europe with his fellow soldiers in May 1945, and in June 1946 marched down Constitution Avenue with his comrades in Washington, D.C. under the review of President Harry Truman.

After the war, he rejoined his family in Columbus, Ohio, and in 1951 moved back to California with his widowed mother. His significant military decorations include two Bronze Star Medals; European Theater Ribbon; Victory Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Sharpshooters Medal; Combat Infantry Badge; Presidential Unit Citation; and the French Legion of Honor. In 2011, he and his fellow Japanese American veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

He married Reiko Kato Yoshihashi in 1952, a union that lasted 57 years until her death in 2009.

A retiree who worked for the Department of Water and Power as an electrician for 27 years, he enjoys gardening and spending time with his three adult children and two grandchildren. He volunteers at GFBNEC, which honors the Japanese American veterans of World War II and educates the public about the history of the 100th Battalion, 442nd RCT and Military Intelligence Service and their contribution to democracy.

Yoshihashi appears in “The Go For Broke Spirit,” a book by photographer Shane Sato and oral historian Robert Horsting. He was one of five Nisei veterans who rode on the Go For Broke float, sponsored by the City of Alhambra, in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade, and was honored along with MIS veteran Ken Akune at the Go For Broke Monument’s 20th anniversary observance in 2019.

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  1. Congratulations Mr. Yoshihashi ! You’ve certainly earned the ultimate respect from our generation. Not surprisingly, we were blessed to know you, and highly respected you without even knowing about your heroism. I know my dad and uncles who served never said a thing, but we could never thank you enough for making our generation’s lives much easier.