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First Name: George

Last Name: Sakato

Birthplace: Colton, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Taro

Date of Birth: 19 February 1921

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1944-1945
George Taro Sakato

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


George Taro 'Joe' Sakato

Private, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private George Taro "Joe" Sakato is a former U.S. Army soldier and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II.

George Taro Sakato was born on 19 February 1921 in Colton, CA. Sakato graduated from Redlands High School in nearby Redlands, CA. His family was Japanese-American and they moved to Arizona during World War II to avoid interment.

Sakato joined the Army and on 29 October 1944, was serving as a Private in the segregated Company E, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. On that day, near Biffontaine in Northeastern France, he charged an enemy position and took command of his squad after the squad leader had been killed.

For his actions during the battle, he received the Army's second-highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. A 1990 review of service records for Asian Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II led to Sakato's award being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House on 21 June 2000, he 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.

Medal of Honor

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 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.

Sakato currently lives in Denver, CO.

Honoree ID: 1630   Created by: MHOH




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