DENVER — George Sakato, a Japanese American, fought poverty and racial discrimination, and in 2000 he received the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II. Friday, he was honored posthumously as a post office was renamed in his honor.
Born Feb. 19, 1921, in Colton, California, George “Joe“ Sakato worked hard with his six siblings at the family barbershop.
"As the railroad people would come into town they would stop at the barbershop, take a bath and get cleaned up," said Leslie Sakato, George Sakato’s only child.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Sakato wanted to join the fight.
Leslie said he wanted to enlist, but he wasn't allowed to because he was Japanese American.
Sakato moved to Arizona with his family to avoid internment, fighting racism all the way, Leslie said.
“To get to Arizona they had to stop at every police station and every sheriffs office on their route," Leslie said.
When Japanese Americans were allowed to fight, Sakato went to France, leading an assault for the 442 army regiment combat team.
“I threw my pack off, had my ammunition, ran up the hill, I was going to get that SOB that shot him or die trying," George Sakato said in an interview.
After the war, Sakato worked for the United States Postal Service for more than 27 years at the Stockyards Station Post Office.
Now, through an act of Congress, that building will have a new name: the George Sakato Post Office Building.
Sakato died in 2015.