BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Without a doubt the finest tributes we can receive comes from our peers, those who have walked the paths we have walked. On June 21st 2000 at a luncheon hosted by the then Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera to honor 22 Asian American Medal of Honor Recipients, Caldera recalled the words of Stars and Stripes cartoonist Bill Mauldin who spoke and wrote of what he witnessed as a front line GI.
“No combat unit in the Army could exceed [them] in loyalty, hard work, courage and sacrifice. Hardly a man of them hasn’t been decorated at least twice, and their casualty lists were appalling…. A lot of us in Italy used to scratch our heads and wonder how we would feel if we were wearing the uniform of a country that mistreated our families. Most of us came to the conclusion that we would be pretty damn sulky about it, and we marveled at those guys who didn’t sulk … and showed more character and guts per man than any 10 of the rest of us … . We were proud to be wearing the same uniform.”
The next day, June 22nd, Caldera inducted the 22 heroes into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. Among the many acts of bravery Caldera spoke of the 442nd Combat Team and their battle to rescue the ‘Lost Battalion’ (the Texas National Guard 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment).
“In that fearful engagement, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team suffered about 800 casualties to save 211 Texans — four Nisei soldiers killed or wounded for each fellow soldier saved.
Only one Medal of Honor was presented to a Japanese-American soldier during World War II, despite the fact that these soldiers, despite intense prejudice at home in the USA, were among the most decorated soldiers of the war. Following a review in the late 1990s of Distinguished Service Cross awards to Japanese Americans, the DSC previously awarded to Mikio Hasemoto was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The award was presented posthumously by President Bill Clinton on June 21, 2000.
On November 29, 1943 near Cerasuolo, Italy the left flank of Private Mikio Hasemoto’s platoon was attacked by about 40 enemy soldiers. The enemy attack was led by two soldiers firing machineguns. With only his automatic rifle Hasemoto rose to challenge the machineguns. He emptied four magazines at the approaching enemy before his weapon was damaged by gunfire. He ran 10 yards to the rear, found another automatic rifle and fired it until it jammed. Together with his squad leader, Hasemoto had already killed 20 enemy soldiers. But he braved enemy fire to pick up an M-1 and continue fighting until he and his squad leader killed 10 more enemy. He and his squad leader charged the remaining three enemy soldiers, killing one, wounding one and capturing the last. Private Hasemoto was killed the next day while fighting off enemy attacks.
Rank and organization:Private, U.S. Army, Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Place and date:Cerasuolo, Italy, November 29, 1943
Entered service at:Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
Born:July 13, 1916, Honolulu, Hawaii
Private Mikio Hasemoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, in the vicinity of Cerasuolo, Italy. A force of approximately 40 enemy soldiers, armed with machine guns, machine pistols, rifles, and grenades, attacked the left flank of his platoon. Two enemy soldiers with machine guns advanced forward, firing their weapons. Private Hasemoto, an automatic rifleman, challenged these two machine gunners. After firing four magazines at the approaching enemy, his weapon was shot and damaged. Unhesitatingly, he ran 10 yards to the rear, secured another automatic rifle and continued to fire until his weapon jammed. At this point, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader had killed approximately 20 enemy soldiers. Again, Private Hasemoto ran through a barrage of enemy machine gun fire to pick up an M-1 rifle. Continuing their fire, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader killed 10 more enemy soldiers. With only three enemy soldiers left, he and his squad leader charged courageously forward, killing one, wounding one, and capturing another. The following day, Private Hasemoto continued to repel enemy attacks until he was killed by enemy fire. Private Hasemoto’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.
Private Mikio Hasemoto is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. His grave can be located at Section D, Grave 338.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.