Private First Class Company A, 100th Battalion 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Aug. 17, 1922 – Apr. 5, 1945
Los Angeles, California
Growing up with discrimination in the 1930’s Los Angeles was painful. “NO JAPS ALLOWED” said a sign that turned young Sadao away from a public swimming pool. He was the son of Kametaro and Nawa Munemori from Hiroshima. Sadao attended Fletcher Drive Elementary School and graduated Abraham Lincoln High School in 1940.
Munemori worked as a mechanic before volunteering for the U.S. Army, one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly after he left for the Army, his family was removed from their home and incarcerated at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California.
Recruited by the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, Munemori rose to the rank of Technical Sergeant. Out of concern he might face his brother-in- law (a doctor in the Imperial Japanese Army) in the Pacific Theater, Sadao requested a transfer to the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Munemori reported to Camp Shelby at the reduced rank of Private First Class and became a replacement soldier for the 100th Battalion when he shipped overseas to join the unit. In March of 1945, the 442nd RCT, including the 100th, was sent to break the Gothic Line, the last German Army defensive stronghold in Italy.
During the American assault, a fierce German attack forced Munemori and two squad members into a crater. He climbed out to attack and silence two enemy machine guns before returning to the crater. An enemy grenade bounced off his helmet and landed in the hole. With no time to grab and throw the grenade out, Munemori smothered the blast with his body. He sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.
For his actions, Sadao Munemori was awarded the Medal of Honor. Two statues have been erected in his honor, one in Evergreen Cemetary, Los Angeles and the other in Piestrasanto, Italy.