When World War II broke out, times were especially difficult for Japanese Americans. Between 110,000 and 120,000 were interned in camps along the Pacific coast. Lifelong citizens were now feared — hated, even — in the place they called home.
Japanese American George T. Sakato not only fought to defend his country, he fought to prove his loyalty to it.
Sakato, who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his courageous acts in Biffontaine, France on October 29, 1944, died last week at the age of 94.
— American Values (@Center4Values) December 3, 2015
Born in Colton, California in 1921 and growing up outside of San Bernardino, Sakato and his family fled to Arizona at the start of the war to avoid internment. In 1944, he volunteered for the U.S. Army, joining the all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
While fighting for Hill 617 in Biffontaine, Sakato personally killed a total of twelve Nazis, staged a one-man charge through a hail of enemy gunfire when his platoon was pinned down, and led his men in successfully halting the Nazi counter-attack when his squad leader was killed.
From his Medal of Honor citation:
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.
The only thing more utterly badass than what he did was his reason for doing it. Here’s what he told NBC News:
“I was going to get the guys that shot [my friend] or die trying.”
To a true American..