Memorial Day 2012: Private Sadao Munemori and A Request for Hollywood

| May 28, 2012 | Reply

Sadao Munemori was a hero, who loved his country to an extent we can not measure. He was American, born in Glendale, CA to parents who immigrated from Japan in the 1920s. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Munemori’s family were sent to the Manzanar internment camp. Munemori didn’t become bitter. He wanted to fight. He was already a member of the Army — he had joined before Pearl Harbor — but because of his heritage, he was assigned to be a translator. Like I said, he wanted to fight, so he made trouble, just enough to get assigned to a combat unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the 100th Infantry Brigade . Munemori was eventually sent as a replacement to Italy, where his team, which motto is “Go For Broke”, was already in combat in Italy.

In 1945, the 442nd was part of a spearhead of an attack on the “Gothic Line”, a fortification in the Apennines Mountains the Germans had built over 9 months with the work of some 15,000 Italian slave laborers. It was the last, big push into the German homeland, the blow that could break the Nazis if it was successful. From here, I’ll go to Wikipedia for the narrative.

In front of the 442nd lay mountains code-named Georgia, Florida, Ohio 1, Ohio 2, Ohio 3, Monte Cerrata, Monte Folgorita, Monte Belvedere, Moente Carchio, and Monte Altissimo. These objectives hinged on surprising the Germans. The 100th went after Georgia Hill and the 3rd Battalion attacked Mount Folgorita. On April 3 the 442nd moved into position under the cover of nightfall to hide from the Germans who had good sight lines from their location on the mountains. The next day the 442nd waited. At 0500 the following morning they were ready to strike. A little over 30 minutes later objectives Georgia and Mount Folgorita were taken, cracking the Gothic Line. They achieved surprise and forced the enemy to retreat. After counterattacking, the Germans were defeated. During this time, 2nd Battalion was moving into position at Mount Belvedere, which overlooked Massa and the Frigido River.

The 442nd made a continuous push against the German Army and objectives began to fall: Ohio 1, 2, and 3, Mount Belvedere on April 6 by 2nd Battalion, Montignoso April 8 by 3rd Battalion, Mount Brugiana on April 11 by 2nd Battalion, Carrara by 3rd Battalion on April 11, and Ortonovo by the 100th on April 15. The 442 turned a surprise diversionary attack into an all-out offensive. The advance came so quickly that supply units had a hard time keeping up.

The attack pushed the Germans off the mountains and through the Po River Valley. The war ended in Italy about two weeks later and the Nazi war machine surrendered unconditionally shortly thereafter.

Private Murimori and his fellows were on Monte Folgorita, pinned down by German machine gun fire. He took charge after his squad leader was gunned down. I’ll now turn the narrative over to his Medal of Honor citation.

He fought with great gallantry and intrepidity near Seravezza, Italy. When his unit was pinned down by grazing fire from the enemy’s strong mountain defense and command of the squad devolved on him with the wounding of its regular leader, he made frontal, l-man attacks through direct fire and knocked out 2 machineguns with grenades Withdrawing under murderous fire and showers of grenades from other enemy emplacements, he had nearly reached a shell crater occupied by 2 of his men when an unexploded grenade bounced on his helmet and rolled toward his helpless comrades. He arose into the withering fire, dived for the missile and smothered its blast with his body. By his swift, supremely heroic action Pfc. Munemori saved 2 of his men at the cost of his own life and did much to clear the path for his company’s victorious advance.

Pfc. Munemori was, until the year 2000, the only soldier born in America of Japanese immigrant parents to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

I appreciate George Johnston and Investors Business Daily who told us Pfc. Munemori’s story. I’d like to see more stories like his. It would be a very good idea (and good business) if Hollywood built on the successes they made with movies like We Were Soldiers and miniseries like Band of Brothers and discovered more stories of real American heroism.

Earlier today, on Twitter, I said I’d like to see a Band Of Brothers style series made about units in Korea and Vietnam. I’m very sure an enterprising producer could find stories of heroism and humanity and bring them to the big screen and our televisions in fairly short order. It’s not like there’s a paucity of such stories. Unfortunately, too many in Hollywood share a mind with MS-NBC’s Chris Hayes, whose lips stumble over “hero” asĀ  if he had just discovered the word existed. There are some, though, who could pull off those new projects, though, and I’d be willing to help them get them done any way I can. History slips away from us very easily. It would be a good idea to capture these tales of true heroism for posterity while we still can.

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Category: In Memoriam

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