George // 坂戸太郎 Taro "Joe" Sakato, PVT MP

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Location: Denver, CO, USA
Birthdate: (92)
Birthplace: Colton, CA, USA
Occupation: 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Managed by: Marvin Caulk, (C)
Last Updated:

About George // 坂戸太郎 Taro "Joe" Sakato, PVT

George Taro "Joe" Sakato (Japanese: 坂戸太郎, born February 19, 1921) is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.


Biography


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


Sakato joined the Army and by October 29, 1944, was serving as a private in the segregated Company E, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. On that day, near Biffontaine in north-eastern 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 decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross. A 1990s 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 June 21, 2000, he was presented with the 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.


Sakato currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

Medal of Honor citation


Private Sakato's official Medal of Honor citation reads:


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

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George // 坂戸太郎 Sakato, PVT's Timeline

1921
February 19, 1921
Colton, CA, USA