Sgt. Akira Toki inducted into Madison VA hospital’s ‘Hall of Heroes’

MADISON, Wis. — A new member was inducted into the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital’s Hall of Heroes Thursday, one day before Veteran’s Day.

Sgt. Akira Toki served from 1942 to 1945 in an Army that didn’t always welcome him as a Japanese American. Eventually, he became a squad leader in the newly-formed 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit composed almost entirely of Japanese Americans.

Toki served as a squad leader during fierce combat in Italy and France, where he received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions.

“He had to prove himself not only to the Army but to the Japanese Americans from Hawaii and from California,” his daughter, Welcome Toki-Sittig, said. “So eventually it all worked out, but it was kind of an experience for him.”

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After returning to civilian life, Toki ran his family farm in Madison until retiring in the early 1980s. He also became known for his community volunteer work, especially at Madison’s VA hospital.

In 1993, Orchard Ridge Middle School on Madison’s southwest side was renamed in his honor.

Toki died in 2012 at age 96.

To learn more about the Hall of Heroes, click or tap here.