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Muranaga volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This army unit was mostly made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.  Muranaga was killed on the first day of action for the 442nd in Italy.
For his actions in June 1944, Muranaga was awarded the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). In the 1990s, there was a review of service records of Asian Americans who received the DSC during World War II. Muranaga's award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000, his family was presented with his medal by President Bill Clinton. Twenty-one other Asian Americans also received the medal during the ceremony, but only seven of them were still alive. Without help from others, he engaged an artillery gun using a mortar.
Medal of Honor citation
The words of Muranaga's citation explain:
Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 26 June 1944, near Suvereto, Italy. Private First Class Muranaga's company encountered a strong enemy force in commanding positions and with superior firepower. An enemy 88mm self-propelled gun opened direct fire on the company, causing the men to disperse and seek cover. Private First Class Muranaga's mortar squad was ordered to action, but the terrain made it impossible to set up their weapons. The squad leader, realizing the vulnerability of the mortar position, moved his men away from the gun to positions of relative safety. Because of the heavy casualties being inflicted on his company, Private First Class Muranaga, who was a gunner, attempted to neutralize the 88mm weapon alone. Voluntarily remaining at his gun position, Private First Class Muranaga manned the mortar himself and opened fire on the enemy gun at a range of approximately 400 yards. With his third round, he was able to correct his fire so that the shell landed directly in front of the enemy gun. Meanwhile, the enemy crew, immediately aware of the source of mortar fire, turned their 88mm weapon directly on Private First Class Muranaga's position. Before Private First Class Muranaga could fire a fourth round, an 88mm shell scored a direct hit on his position, killing him instantly. Because of the accuracy of Private First Class Muranaga's previous fire, the enemy soldiers decided not to risk further exposure and immediately abandoned their position. Private First Class Muranaga's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II
- List of Asian American Medal of Honor recipients
- Posthumous recognition
- US Army Center of Military History (CMH), "Medal of Honor Recipients, World War II (M-S)"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "50th Anniversary Memorial Service of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team," Congressional Record--Senate, Vol. 151, April 25, 2001, pp. 6265-6266.
- 442nd Regimental Combat Team, "Tributes," Men of F Company, 2nd Battalion, Kiyoshi Muranaga; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WWII Army Enlistment Record #37356488 (Muranaga, Kiyoshi K.); retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Recipient Private First Class Kiyoshi K. Muranaga"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry" at Global Security.org; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- Discover Nikkei, "Kiyoshi K. Muranaga (KIA 06/26/1944)"; Hawaii Nisei Story, First Experience of War," First Battle; retrieved 2012-12-7.
- "21 Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of Honor" at University of Hawaii Digital History; retrieved 2012-12-27.
- CMH, "Asian Pacific American Medal of Honor recipients"; retrieved 2012-12-28.
- Gomez-Granger, Julissa. (2008). Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2008, "Muranga, Kiyoshi," pp. 13-14 [PDF 17-18 of 44]; retrieved 2012-12-7.