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George SakatoGeorge Sakato

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, June 2000

Official Citation:
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 For Broke!”

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.

©2003 GWETA