George T. Sakato

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George T. Sakato
George T Sakato.jpg
Private George Sakato, US Army
Birth name George Taro Sakato
Nickname(s) Joe
Born (1921-02-19)February 19, 1921
Colton, California
Died December 2, 2015(2015-12-02) (aged 94)
Denver, Colorado
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1944–1945
Rank Private
Unit Company E, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star
Presidential Unit Citation Emblem
Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

George Taro "Joe" Sakato (February 19, 1921 – December 2, 2015) was an American combat soldier of World War II who received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award for valor.[1]


Sakato was born in Colton, California.[2] He was a Nisei, which means that he was a second generation born American citizen of Japanese descent.[3] He graduated from Redlands High School in Redlands, California.[4]

The Sakato family moved to Arizona during World War II to avoid internment.[2]

World War II[edit]

Sakato joined the US Army in March 1944.[5]

He volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was assigned to 3rd platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion.[6] The US Army unit was mostly made up of Americans of Japanese descent from Hawaii and the mainland.[7]

Sakato was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)[8] for extraordinary heroism on October 29, 1944 in France.

Post World War II[edit]

In the 1990s, there was a review of US military service records of Americans of Asian descent who received the DSC during World War II. Sakato's award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. President Bill Clinton presented Sakato the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000. Twenty-one other American servicemen of World War II of Asian descent also were presented the Medal of Honor during the ceremony, but only seven were living recipients.[9] Sakato died in the evening of December 2, 2015 in Denver, Colorado, at the age of 94.[10]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Sakato in 2009

Sakato's Medal of Honor recognized his heroic conduct in frontline fighting in northern France in 1944.[1] He charged an enemy stronghold, and then took command of his platoon and led it in defense of the position.[11]


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 the enemy fire, Private Sakato made a one-man rush that encouraged his platoon to charge and destroy the enemy strongpoint. While his platoon was reorganizing, he proved to be the inspiration of his squad in halting a counter-attack on the left flank during which his squad leader was killed. Taking charge of the squad, he continued his relentless tactics, using 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 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.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b US Army Center of Military History (CMH), "Medal of Honor Recipients, World War II (M-S)"; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  2. ^ a b "George Sakato," American Valor (PBS/WETA), 2003; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  3. ^ Dunford, Bruce. "Nisei War Heroes Receive Long-Delayed Recognition," Los Angelese Times. June 18, 2000; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  4. ^ Juedes, Joy. "Redlands resident to receive Congressional Gold Medal," The San Bernardino Sun (San Bernardino, California). November 11, 2010; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  5. ^ National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WWII Army Enlistment Record #39923340 (Sakato, George T.); retrieved 2012-12-28.
  6. ^ Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Private George T. Sakato"; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  7. ^ "100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry" at Global; retrieved 2012-12-27.
  8. ^ Goldstein, Richard (December 3, 2015), "George Sakato, 94, Dies; Awarded Medal of Honor", The New York Times
  9. ^ "21 Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of Honor" at University of Hawaii Digital History Archived March 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  10. ^ Congressional Medal of Honor Society (3 December 2015). "Medal of Honor Recipient George T. Sakato Passes Away at 94".
  11. ^ CMH, "Asian Pacific American Medal of Honor recipients"; retrieved 2012-12-28.
  12. ^ Gomez-Granger, Julissa. (2008). Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2008, "Sakato, George T.," p. 19 [PDF 23 of 44]; retrieved 2012-11-26.

External links[edit]

Media related to George Sakato at Wikimedia Commons