26 January 2011

RIP: Barney Hajiro

Barney Fushimi Hajiro
16 Sep 1916 - 21 Jan 2011

ZUI this article from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
The nation's oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, Barney Hajiro, died Friday at Maunalani Hospital in Honolulu.

He was 94.

Hajiro had been awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses by the Army while serving with a rifle company in the 442 Regimental Combat Team during World War II in Europe.

One of those awards was upgraded to the Medal of Honor 46 years after the war ended at the urging of Sen. Daniel Akaka who authored congressional legislation requiring the Army to determine whether 22 Asian and Pacific Island Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross had not been properly recognized because of the war's anti-Japanese sentiment. Twenty, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, were members of the famed segregated Japanese American 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.


Hajiro was the eldest of nine children and left the 8th grade at Puunene on Maui to work in the sugar-cane fields for 10 cents an hour, 10 hours a day. Because he had to leave school to help support his family, Hajiro, an aspiring track star, was never able to pursue his dream to compete in high school and college.

He is survived by a son, Glenn; wife, Esther, and one grandson.

According to the Medal of Honor Society, there are now 85 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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Private, US Army; 442nd Infantry Regiment

Born: 16 September 1916, Territory of Hawai`i
Died: TBD

Citation: Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as "Suicide Hill" by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro's heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

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