Joe Hayashi

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Joe J. Hayashi
Joe Hayashi.jpg
Joe Hayashi, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1920-08-14)August 14, 1920
Salinas, California
Died April 22, 1945(1945-04-22) (aged 24)
near Tendola, Italy
Place of burial Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941 - 1945
Rank Sergeant (posthumous)
Unit 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal of Honor

Joe J. Hayashi (August 14, 1920 – April 22, 1945) was a United States Army soldier.[1] He is best known as a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.[2]

Early life[edit]

Hayashi was born at Salinas, California. He is the son of immigrants who were born in Japan. He is a Nisei, which means that he is a second generation Japanese-American.[3]


Working as a mechanic before the war, Hayashi enlisted in the Army from Los Angeles in May 1941.[4]

Hayashi volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.[5] This army unit was mostly made up of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.[6]

On April 20, 1945 near Tendola, Italy, Hayashi exposed himself to hostile fire in order to direct mortar fire onto enemy positions. Two days later, he single-handedly silenced three hostile machine guns but was killed while pursuing enemy soldiers.

For his actions during the battle, he was awarded the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross.[7] A 1990s review of service records for Asian Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II led to Hayashi's award being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 2000, his surviving family was presented with his Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton. Twenty-one other Asian Americans also received the medal during the ceremony, all but seven of them posthumously.

Hayashi, aged 24 at his death, was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. He was posthumously re-promoted to Sergeant.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Hayashi's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others. On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade, killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pistol fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective. Private Hayashi'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.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Joe Hayashi Memorial" at Pasadena Public Information Office; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  2. ^ US Army Center of Military History, "Medal of Honor Recipients, World War II (G-L)"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  3. ^ Bramlett, David A. "Go For Broke Monument, Fifth Anniversary Tribute," Archived 2012-04-19 at the Wayback Machine. June 5, 2004; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  4. ^ U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), WWII Army Enlistment Record #39233508 (Hayashi, Joe); retrieved 2012-12-7.
  5. ^ Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Recipient Private Joe Hayashi"; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  6. ^ "100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry" at Global; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  7. ^ "21 Asian American World War II Vets to Get Medal of Honor" at University of Hawaii Digital History Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine.; retrieved 2012-12-7.
  8. ^ Gomez-Granger, Julissa. (2008). Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2008, "Hayashi, Joe," pp. 9-10 [PDF 13 of 44]; retrieved 2012-12-7.
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

External links[edit]