George Sakato was born in 1921, growing up in California. His family, concerned they would be interned by the government, moved to Arizona. Sakato joined the US Army in March 1944. He volunteered to be part of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was assigned to 3rd platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion. The 442nd Regiment was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare. Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor.
Private George T. Sakato distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on October 29th 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, 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.
For the extraordinary heroism displayed by Sakato at Biffontaine, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
In the 1990s, there was a review of US military service records of Americans of Asian descent who received the Distinguished Service Cross 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. He died on December 2, 2015 in Denver, Colorado, at the age of 94.
The Sakato family has donated his Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin, which will be included in the metal used to cast The Honor Bell.
Join us on March 24th in Littleton to dedicate artifacts from George's service, along with those from eleven other servicemembers. There will be a screening of the movie Taking Chance, and more. Purchase your tickets here.