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PFC Sadao “Spud” Munemori

American Racism at Its Finest

Many people know about or have, at least, heard of, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT,) the Nisei (2nd generation) combat unit during WWII. They were the most decorated unit for its size. All told, they were awarded 4000 Purple Hearts, 4000 Bronze Stars and 21 Medals of Honor plus dozens of unit citations. Most were Americans citizens and many had family and friends imprisoned in American concentration camps at places like Manzanar and Tule Lake, CA, Jerome, AL, Poston, AZ and many other camps.

PFC Sadao “Spud” Munemori of Los Angeles enlisted in the US Army initially as a Japanese language specialist but transferred to the 442nd RCT, taking a demotion from T/Sgt (E-6) to PFC (E-2.) All this while his family were prisoners at Manzanar, a desolate, dusty, frigid part of the California desert, miles from civilization. Spud visited his family at Manzanar before being shipped out to the European Theater.

In Italy, Munemori was part of the 442nd that helped rescue the “Lost Battalion” of the Texas National Guard. A few months later, the 442nd was assigned to break German defenses at the Gothic Line, Germany’s last line of defense before Allied forces could attack German soil.

The 442nd literally climbed a vertical cliff at night in silence to surprise the German defenders who hadn’t bothered to post guards, thinking no one could possibly climb that escarpment. It’s reported that discipline was so strong among the 442nd that if a soldier fell during the ascent, they didn’t scream or cry out to avoid giving away their position. These same men had friends and family in American concentration camps at home.

During the ensuing battle, Spud was killed protecting men in his platoon by throwing himself on an enemy grenade. Every GI and veteran has heard of such exploits but you don’t normally know of someone who actually did such a heroic, selfless act. For his actions, PFC Sadao “Spud” Munemori became the first Nisei GI to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

When they received word of Spud’s heroic death, his parents, family and friends held a memorial service AT MANZANAR where they were still being held prisoner. I hope this helped prove their loyalty to the US. /snark off


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