Born: Colton, California
War: World War II
Rank: Private, US Army 100th
Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Location of action: Biffontaine, France
Date of action: October 29, 1944
Medal received from: President Bill Clinton,
Private George T. Sakato distinguished himself by extraordinary
heroism in action on 29 October 1944, on hill 617 in the vicinity
of Biffontaine, France. After his platoon had virtually destroyed
two enemy defense lines, during which he personally killed
five enemy soldiers and captured four, his unit was pinned
down by heavy enemy fire. Disregarding this fire, Private
Sakato made a one-man rush that encouraged his platoon to
charge and destroy the enemy strongpoint.
He proved to be
the inspiration of his squad in halting a counter-attack on
the left flank during the reorganization of his platoon. It
was at this time that his squad leader was killed. Taking
charge of the squad, he continued his relentless tactics.
Private Sakato used an enemy rifle and P-38 pistol to stop
an organized enemy attack. During this entire action, he killed
12 and wounded two, personally captured four and assisted
his platoon in taking 34 prisoners.
By continuously ignoring
the enemy fire and by his gallant courage and fighting spirit,
he turned impending defeat into victory and helped his platoon
complete its mission. Private Sakato’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.
George Sakato joined the military after his family voluntarily
moved to Arizona to avoid being placed in an internment camp.
Sakato thought he was joining the Air Force but found instead that
he was in the Army infantry.
His segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which
included the US Army 100th Infantry Battalion, was comprised
mostly of second generation Japanese Americans, and is the
most decorated unit in American military history. It became
known for its extraordinary bravery and its motto, “Go
Sakato’s Medal of Honor was originally disapproved and
he received instead the Distinguished Service Cross. In June,
2000, along with twenty-one other Asian-American veterans
of World War II including Sen. Daniel Inouye from Hawaii,
George Sakato finally received his Medal of Honor from President
Bill Clinton. “How I got the medal, I don’t know”,
Sakato said. “I saw only 90 days of actual combat. Others
deserve this much more. But I’ll take it for the guys
who didn’t come back”.
Read an except from
George Sakato's interview.