Recognizing George T. Sakatoby Representative Diana DeGette
Posted on 2015-12-10
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the life and
achievements of George T. Sakato.
George Sakato was born in Colton, California in 1921 and grew up in Southern California. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, his family moved from California to avoid the mass internment of Japanese Americans, and his family resettled in Arizona.
In 1944, at the age of 23, Mr. Sakato volunteered for the U.S. Army and joined the all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. At 5 feet 4 inches, he was not your storybook soldier. What he lacked in stature, however, he made up for in bravery and devotion to his brothers in arms.
In October of 1944, Private Sakato's unit was sent on a mission to rescue 281 captured American soldiers in the Vosges Mountains of northeast France. In the firefight, Private Sakato's squad leader was killed after his unit pushed enemy German combatants from their defensive positions.
With no commanding officer, Private Sakato stepped up to lead his squad. He charged the enemy position. Singlehandedly, he killed 12 enemy soldiers and then, with the help of his unit, took 34 more as prisoners.
For his bravery, Private Sakato received the Distinguished Service Cross and was recommended for the Medal of Honor. Yet, like so many other Japanese-American soldiers during WWII, he was denied that honor due to deeply ingrained anti-Japanese racism.
[[Page E1757]] More than a half century later, on June 21, 2000, Mr. Sakato and 21 other Asian-American veterans were finally given the recognition they had earned for their actions in combat and were awarded the Medal of Honor by President Clinton.
On Dec. 2nd, 2015, at the age of 94, George Sakato died in Denver, Colorado. George Sakato was one of the trailblazing men and women whose hands have shaped the United States into the great nation it is today. His example of bravery, humility, and love for his country is one to admire and emulate.
My condolences go to his daughter Leslie, and the rest of the Sakato family.