George Taro “Joe” Sakato MOH

b. 19/02/1921 Colton, California. d. 02/12/2015 Denver, Colorado.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 29/10/1944 Hill 617 near Biffontaine, France.

George T Sakato MOH

Sakato was born in Colton, California. He was a Nisei, which means that he was a second generation born American citizen of Japanese descent. He graduated from Redlands High School in Redlands, California. The Sakato family moved to Arizona during World War II to avoid internment.

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 US Army unit was mostly made up of Americans of Japanese descent from Hawaii and the mainland. Sakato was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for extraordinary heroism on October 29, 1944, in France.

In the 1990s, there was a review of US military service records of Americans of Asian descent who received the DSC 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. Twenty-one other American servicemen of World War II of Asian descent also were presented the Medal of Honor during the ceremony, but only seven were living recipients. Sakato died in the evening of December 2, 2015 in Denver, Colorado, at the age of 94.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 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.