Wednesday Jun 09 2010
Loomis war hero Alfred Nitta dies at 87
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
Veteran one of the last local members of famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Loomis lost one of his war heroes on Memorial Day. Alfred Nitta, who fought with the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, died May 31, 2010 at the age of 87. Mr. Nitta died at his home on the family High Ranch fruit farm on Del Mar Avenue in Loomis, where he was born on March 19, 1923. He had suffered from stomach cancer since last October, according to his son John Nitta. With Mr. Nitta’s death, there are now only two local living veterans who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Japanese Americans battalion that earned 21 Medals of Honor during World War II. They are Shigeo Yokote and Frank Kageta. “He was one of my really good buddies … I don’t have too many left,” Kageta said. Kageta, who said he moved to Loomis just prior to the war, said he got to know Mr. Nitta well after the war. “We worked hard to make sure we would be accepted as good citizens in Placer County,” Kageta said. His friend, Kageta said, was a good man. “He was very honest and he never hesitated to help someone. That’s the main thing that I would admire in him.” Mr. Nitta was a lifetime and active member in the First United Methodist Church of Loomis, which his parents and his wife’s parents helped found. Alan Takagishi is also a member of the Loomis church and said he had often worked on church projects with Mr. Nitta. “He was somebody who when you started a project or process, he would work until finished,” Takagishi said. Last fall, Takagishi said, he and Mr. Nitta took their respective tractors to the church to level out a dirt area for overflow parking. Mr. Nitta set quitting time at 5 p.m., and as much as Takagishi tried to get Mr. Nitta to quit work early, he refused. “That was like the fourth day of working out there,” Takagishi said. “We got it all fixed, leveled out. He was very proud of the fact he was able to do that,” Takagishi said. Besides his family and tinkering with his inventions, John Nitta said, his father loved nothing more than riding his Caterpillar D2 tractor. It’s the tractor he used on the farm for many years and which he kept running by taking parts from other tractors. “He was happiest seating in his tractor seat moving dirt.” Another thing that gave his father pleasure, John Nitta said, was giving away the produce he grew. “He would have his peaches … and visit family, friends and business associates” to give them the fruit, he said. John Nitta said his father was a perfectionist who took great pride in his work. “He loved to tinker and come up with new and better ways to make equipment work better … He was a real problem solver.” Among Mr. Nitta’s inventions is the Dust Dawg, a dust suppression system for control of particles emitted when applying straw mulch during erosion control. “He has a patent pending … it works like a charm,” John Nitta said. Although Mr. Nitta’s family was interned in camps during World War II, he never lost his patriotism and desire to serve the community. He was a 62-year member and past president of John A. Stacker American Legion Post 775. He was also a lifetime member of the Placer County Chapter of the Japanese; served on the Loomis Union School District board of trustees; and helped install the football stadium and swimming pool at Del Oro High School, where he was past president of the parents club. Mr. Nitta was also the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to the community and his achievements. Mr. Nitta is survived by his wife, Ellen; and sons and daughters John, Mark, Scott, Cheryl and Laura and their spouses, as well as 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at the First United Methodist Church.