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David M. Akui
File:David Akui.jpg
Born (1920-01-16)January 16, 1920
Died September 15, 1987(1987-09-15) (aged 67)
Place of death Kaneohe, Honolulu, Hawaii
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1940–1945
Rank Master Sergeant
Unit Hawaii National Guard
5307th Composite Unit
Battles/wars World War II

David M. Akui (January 16, 1920 – September 15, 1987) was a United States soldier who became famous for capturing the first Japanese prisoner of war in World War II. At the time, Akui was a corporal in Company G, 298th Infantry Regiment of the Hawaii National Guard.[1]


Hawaiian native Akui enlisted on 15 October 1940[2] and would serve in the Pacific theater until its end. On December 8, 1941, the morning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Akui was walking along Waimanalo Beach, accompanied by Lieutenant Paul C. Plybon. Akui found an Asian man lying unconscious on the beach. The man awakened to find Akui standing over him with a drawn pistol.[3][4] Akui took the man into custody and he was identified as Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, commander of a two-man midget submarine that took part in the Pearl Harbor attacks.[1] Ensign Sakamaki's submarine's gyrocompass was malfunctioning and caused the submarine to sail in circles at periscope depth. Sakamaki thus ran aground on a reef, where the United States Navy destroyer USS Helm spotted it and opened fire.[5] The destroyer's gunners missed, but the blasts freed the submarine from the reef and Sakamaki was able to submerge. When he could not repair the gyrocompass, Sakamaki ordered Petty Officer 2nd Class Inagaki Kiyoshi to swim ashore, while he set the demolition charges to destroy the submarine. Sakamaki then abandoned ship himself. Kiyoshi drowned attempting to swim ashore. Sakamaki succeeded, but passed out from exhaustion. Corporal Akui found him there.[5] Sakamaki's demolition charges failed to explode and his submarine also washed ashore. It was salvaged and is now in the Admiral Nimitz Museum at Fredericksburg, Texas.[5] Akui served through the remainder of the war in the Pacific Theater and was a member of the famed "Merrill's Marauders", who fought the Japanese in the jungles of Burma.[6][7][8] He retired from the United States Army as a master sergeant and spent the rest of his life in Hawaii. He died in Kaneohe, Honolulu in 1987 at the age of 67.[6]


Further reading[]

  • Arakaki, Leatrice R.; Kuborn, John R. (1991). 7 December 1941, The Air Force Story (Pearl Harbor). Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 142–146. 

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