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The Medal Of Honor
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From its inception during the Civil War and through the Spanish-American War (1898), the Honor Roll of Medal Of Honor recipients reflected a wide diversity of American soldiers, from low ranking privates to top generals.  Ethnic and cultural diversity was also reflected, the award going to Native Americans, Buffalo Soldiers, Hispanic Americans, Jewish heroes, and foreign immigrants.  Awards of the Medal of Honor during the Korean and Vietnam Wars reflected a similar cross-section of America.  Of the more than 500 Medals of Honor awarded during World War I and II, however, the same could not be said.  Though Hispanic and Native Americans had received the award during the two World Wars, not a single Black American, one Filipino, and only one Japanese-American soldier was awarded the Medal of Honor.

This initially prompted a review of World War I Distinguished Service Cross awards to Black American soldiers. On April 24, 1991 President George Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the sisters of Corporal Freddie Stowers, a young Black soldier killed in action during World War I.   His actions had been deemed of sufficient valor to merit our Nation's highest award.  A similar review of Black American soldiers awarded the DSC in World War II followed and, on January 13, 1997, President Clinton presented Medals of Honor to seven Black heroes of World War II.  Six of the awards were posthumous awards accepted by surviving family members.  Of the seven, only Vernon Baker had survived both the war and the interval of years, to personally receive his Medal.

Unlike America's Black veterans of the two World Wars, the Japanese-Americans could claim one Medal of Honor during the period, the award presented to Sadao Munemori.   (Even Munemori had initially been awarded the DSC, but Utah Senator Albert Thomas had pushed for its upgrade to the Medal of Honor shortly after the end of World War II.)   In view of the impressive record of the Nisei in World War II and particularly the incredible accomplishments of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team, it was generally believed that there should have been more.

In 1996 Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka sponsored legislation ordering the re-evaluation of World War II awards to Japanese-Americans, and other Asian/Pacific Islanders who fought in both theaters.  On June 21, 2000 President Clinton awarded 22 Medals of Honor as a result of this action.

Of the 22 awards upgraded, all had received the Distinguished Service Cross except medic James Okubo, who had received the Silver Star (his commanders believed it was the highest award for which he was eligible as a medic.)  Okubo's upgrade was pushed through Congress in separate legislation, and approved in time for his Medal of Honor to be presented with the other 21.

Of the 22 awardees of the Medal of Honor, 10 were killed in action (9 in Europe and 1 in the Pacific).  Of the remaining twelve, only seven had survived the half-century interim to personally receive the Medal of Honor.  The posthumous presentations were made to surviving family members.  One such award was the posthumous presentation to Robert Kuroda.  All four young men in the Kuroda family served in World War II.  Ronald Kuroda accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of his brother.  Ronald had himself, received the Distinguished Service Cross during World War II. 

The seven who survived to personally accept their Medals Of Honor from President Clinton are:

 

 

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Shizuya Hayashi

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Rudolph Davila

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Yeiki Kobashigawa

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Barney Hajiro

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George Sakato

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Yukio Okutsu

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Daniel Inouye

US Army Photos courtesy of SSGT David Bata

 

Photos from the Award Presentation
(click on thumbnails for larger image)

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Most Photos courtesy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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[Introduction] [Purple Heart Battalion]  [Go For Broke]
[Monte Cassino] [Anzio] [Reunion] [The Vosges Mountains]
[The Lost Battalion] [Champagne Campaign]  [Final Victory]
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[The Medal of Honor]  [Citations]
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Click on the button at left to reach our 10-page historical series about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the 15 men who earned Medals of Honor that day.

 

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