Barney F. Hajiro

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Barney F. Hajiro
Barney F Hajiro.jpg
Cmoh army.jpg
Barney F. Hajiro, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1916-09-16)September 16, 1916
Hawaii
Died January 21, 2011(2011-01-21) (aged 94)
Maunalani Care Home, Honolulu
Buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1942 – 1945
Rank Private First Class
Unit 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation Emblem
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Military Medal (British)
Legion of Honor (French)

Barney Fushimi Hajiro (September 16, 1916 – January 21, 2011) was an American and combat veteran of World War II who had received the Medal of Honor, the highest United States military award for valor.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Hajiro was born in Hawaii, the eldest of nine children born to Japanese immigrant parents[3] His parents had moved from Hiroshima to Maui during World War I. Two of his siblings died in infancy. The family was poor, and Hajiro left school to work, first in the sugarcane fields of Maui and later as a stevedore in Honolulu.[1]

World War II[edit]

Two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the U.S. Army[4] and performed menial labor as part of an engineering battalion.

In March 1943, Hajiro volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.[5] The 442nd was mostly made up of second-generation Americans citizens of Japanese descent from Hawaii and the mainland.[6] The unit was sent to Europe and in May 1944 fought the Germans in Italy, north of Rome. From there the 442nd was redeployed to France.

On October 19, 1944 the 442nd was fighting near Bruyères and Biffontaine in eastern France and over the next ten days, Hajiro, a private in Company I, repeatedly distinguished himself in battle. He exposed himself to enemy fire while assisting an allied attack on October 19, and three days later he and a comrade ambushed an 18-man enemy patrol. On October 29, during the rescue of the so-called "Lost Battalion", which had been surrounded by German forces in the Vosges Mountains, he single-handedly destroyed two German machine gun emplacements. Afterwards in another firefight, he was shot in the shoulder and wrist leaving his left arm partially paralyzed. He was able to rejoin the 442nd in Monte Carlo, but was barred from further combat duty. He was then sent back to the United States to recover.

For his actions in October 1944, Hajiro received the Distinguished Service Cross[7] and the World War II Victory Medal before he was honorably discharged.

Post World War II[edit]

In 1948, he was awarded the Military Medal by the British government.[8] A 1990s review of US military service records for personnel of Asian descent who had received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II led to Hajiro's Distinguished Service Cross being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton presented Hajiro the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000.[1] Twenty-one other former US military personnel of Asian descent also received the Medal of Honor during the ceremony, fifteen of them posthumously. In 2004, the French awarded Hajiro the Legion of Honor.[9]

Death

Hajiro was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient for seven months. He died on January 21, 2011 in Waipahu, Hawaii.[10]

Military decorations and awards[edit]

Hajiro's military awards include:

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Hajiro in 2006

Hajiro's Medal of Honor recognized his heroism in frontline fighting in eastern France in 1944.[2]

Hajiro's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and October 29, 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on October 19, 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On October 22, 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On October 29, 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as "Suicide Hill" by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro's heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas. "Barney Hajiro, Medal of Honor Recipient, Dies at 94," The New York Times, February 2, 2011; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  2. ^ a b US Army Center of Military History, "Medal of Honor Recipients, World War II (G-L)"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  3. ^ Kakesako, Gregg K. "Hawaii Medal of Honor recipient Barney Hajiro dies," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, January 24, 2011; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  4. ^ U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WWII Army Enlistment Record #30102563 (Hajiro, Barney F.); retrieved 2012-12-7.
  5. ^ Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Recipient Private Barney F. Hajiro"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  6. ^ "100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry" at Global Security.org; Vachon, Duane A. "Hawaii and the World Lose Another Nisei Hero," Hawaii Reporter, January 24, 2011; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  7. ^ "21 Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of Honor" at University of Hawaii Digital History; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  8. ^ Kakesako, Gregg K. "Honor overdue," Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Hawaii). November 11, 1996; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  9. ^ Vorsino, Mary. "France honors isle hero," Honolulu Star-Bulletin. October 15, 2004; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  10. ^ Vachon, Duane A. "Hawaii and the World Lose Another Nisei Hero," Hawaii Reporter, January 24, 2011; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  11. ^ Gomez-Granger, Julissa. (2008). Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2008, "Hajiro, Barney F.," p. 8-9 [PDF 12-13 of 44]; retrieved 2012-12-7.

External links[edit]