Technician 5th Grade James K. Okubo, USA (November 4, 1944)

his explanation James K. Okubo was born on May 30, 1920 in Anacortes, Washington. With the internment of Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor, he was sent with his family to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in California and later to the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center in Wyoming. It was from the latter that he was drafted into the United States Army on May 22, 1943 just before his 23rd birthday.

i was reading this Okubo volunteered for the all-Nisei (2nd generation Japanese-American) 442nd Regimental Combat Team and was trained as a combat medic. On three days in the fall of 1944, he showed such valor in combat caring for his wounded comrades that he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

First, on October 28-29 he carried a total of 25 wounded men to safety and cared for their injuries while under near continuous Nazi fires. On November 4th, he pulled a wounded crewman from a burning tank whose fuel and ammunition could have exploded at any moment.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (M-S):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon (background)
Photo: Military Times’ Hall of Valor

*OKUBO, JAMES K.

Citation: Technician Fifth Grade James K. Okubo distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 28 and 29 October and 4 November 1944, in the Foret Domaniale de Champ, near Biffontaine, eastern France. On 28 October, under strong enemy fire coming from behind mine fields and roadblocks, Technician Fifth Grade Okubo, a medic, crawled 150 yards to within 40 yards of the enemy lines. Two grenades were thrown at him while he left his last covered position to carry back wounded comrades. Under constant barrages of enemy small arms and machine gun fire, he treated 17 men on 28 October and 8 more men on 29 October. On 4 November, Technician Fifth Grade Okubo ran 75 yards under grazing machine gun fire and, while exposed to hostile fire directed at him, evacuated and treated a seriously wounded crewman from a burning tank, who otherwise would have died. Technician Fifth Grade James K. Okubo’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.

Okubo survived the war and at the time, due to racial discrimination, merely received the Silver Star for his valor. His decoration was upgraded upon review in the 1990s to the Medal of Honor and was presented by President Bill Clinton at the White House on June 21, 2000.

Sadly, he did not live to receive the award he so richly deserved. Okubo in his postwar life was a faculty member at the University of Detroit and died all-too-early at age 46 on January 29, 1967. He today rests in peace in the Woodlawn Cemetery of Detroit, Michigan.

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