Richard “Dick” Noboru Hamasaki
RICHARD "DICK" NOBORU HAMASAKI July 5, 1919 - November 24, 2018 On November 24, 2018, Richard "Dick" Noboru Hamasaki, 99, died peacefully at home. Dick was born on July 5, 1919 to Asano and Kenzo Hamasaki in the sugar plantation workers' camp located cliffside of the Hamakua Mill in Paauilo, Hawaii. He is survived by sons Richard (Jennifer), Mark (Keiko), daughter Lorene (Randy), and grandchildren Sydney, Kai, Napu, Ryo and Mele. Dick is predeceased by his wife, Setsuko "Sets" Nao Hamasaki, who was born and raised in San Francisco, and older brothers, Isami, Yoshito, Albert Tokimasa, and Satoshi Hamasaki. Dick dropped out of McKinley High School during his sophomore year to accompany his parents to Hiroshima. Dick considered himself extremely fortunate when his mother insisted that he return to Hawaii to avoid being conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army. Ironically, in March 1941, he was drafted into the U.S. Army eight months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to A Company, 298th Infantry Regiment (National Guard), Schofield Barracks, which was incorporated into the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion later designated the 100th Battalion (Separate). In 1942, the 100th Battalion trained at Camp McCoy, WI. and Camp Shelby, MS. where Dick and fellow soldiers from Hawaii experienced, firsthand, Jim Crow segregation laws in Mississippi. After combat training, the 100th Battalion was transported by ship to Oran, Africa and then to Salerno, Italy. The unit was assigned to the 133rd Infantry Regiment of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. The 100th fought fierce and bloody battles from Anzio to Cassino, Italy, to Bruyeres, France. Dick earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for combat valor. After being severely wounded in battle, he ended his European tour of duty with four Purple Hearts. He entered the war as a private, and by war's end, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, and would eventually retire from the Army as a Major. In November 2015, at the age of 96, Dick received the French Legion of Honor Award for his participation in the 1944 liberation of the town of Bruyeres. Dick returned to the U.S. and fully recovered from his wounds. In 1946, he met a student at the University of Minnesota, Setsuko "Sets" Nao. After a long-distance correspondence, Dick proposed to Sets and they were married in 1947. They soon moved back to O'ahu where Dick had been assigned to Schofield Barracks. Soon after, he was reassigned to the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps in Yokohama. After the Korean War broke out, he was assigned to the 5th Regiment Combat Team and Sets moved back to her hometown San Francisco. In Korea he earned his second Silver Star. Around this time, he was recruited by the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency and re-assigned, once again, to Japan, still attached to the U.S. Army. Over a decade later, as a Central Intelligence Agency case officer, Dick once again served in a war zone, this time in Vietnam from 1965-67. In 1975, after serving 20 years in the U.S. Army and 14 years in the Civil Service, he retired with Sets to the Bay Area where he worked as a part-time salesman for former PGA Tour Member and noted golf instructor, Bob McCaffery. During this time, he and Sets travelled extensively and often visited Oahu where they eventually settled down permanently. Dick continued to garden and play golf into his early 90s. He relished the company of his children and grandchildren. He cared tenderly for Sets who died in 2011. Dick was an accomplished golfer who learned to love this sport when he was considered the "smallest and youngest caddy" at Waialae Golf Course. The course was not far from his father Kenzo's chicken farm by the old Waialae Drive-In on land that his father leased from the Bishop Estate in the 1930's called the Hamasaki Camp. As a youth, Dick admired and loved golf so much that he fashioned his first set of golf clubs from fallen coconut fronds. Decades later, he played in amateur tournaments and eventually earned a single digit handicap. In an interview with an L.A. film crew that travelled to Hawaii to document Nisei U.S. war veterans, Richard Noboru Hamasaki, a draftee, who served his country in three major wars, insisted that "war should be averted at all cost." Dick was a devoted and loyal friend, a loving husband, father, and grandfather who lived a full and vibrant life. He was humbled and grateful that all three of his children became educators in Hawaii and California.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased