Friday, February 4, 2011

The Dead

Medal of Honor recipient, Barney Hajiro has died. He was 94:

As part of a regiment composed entirely of Japanese-Americans below the officers’ ranks, Private Hajiro epitomized the unit’s brash motto, “Go for Broke!” His commanding officer’s report said that in October 1944 in eastern France, he had run 100 yards through a stream of bullets, walked through a booby-trapped area and led the charge up “Suicide Hill” screaming “Banzai!” before taking out the machine gun nests.

He was shot four times — then insisted that 40 other wounded men be evacuated first. 

Though recommended for the Medal at the time, he didn't receive the honor until 56 years later after a review was launched to find out why no Asian or Black soldiers had been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Though Mr. Hajiro came to be revered — accepting the French Legion of Honor, serving as grand marshal at county fairs — he never forgot where he had come from. On the day the Medal of Honor was pinned to his chest, he said, “Even after the war, they still called me a Jap, you know.”

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