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Kazuo Otani(KIA 7/15/1944)

Birth date
Place of birth
Sanger CA, U.S.A.
1942-2-16, Presidio of Monterey CA
Enlistment type
Service branch
Service type
Unit type
Units served
442nd Regimental Combat Team, Company G. Killed in Action, July 15, 1944 in Italy (See below)
Military specialty
Platoon sergeant, Co. G, 442nd Infantry Regiment, 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
USA - Camp Robinson, Ark; Camp Crowder, MO; Camp Carson, CO; Camp Shelby, MS; Italian front.
Unit responsibility
Personal responsibility
Platoon leader
Major battles (if served in a war zone)
Served with Co. G of the 442nd Infantry during the Italian Campaign and was Killed in action. (See below)
Awards, medals, citations (individual or unit)
Distinguished Service Cross (posthumous), later up-graded to Medal of Honor. (see below); Lyn Crost described Sgt. Otani's heroic deed on Pg. 155 of 'Honor By Fire'.

One of 22 Asian Pacific Americans awarded the Medal of Honor at White House ceremonies on June 21, 2000. He previously was decorated, posthumously, with the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's highest medal for extraordinary heroism. His citation for the Medal of Honor reads as follows:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to


for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 15 July 1944, near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy. Advancing to attack a hill objective, Staff Sergeant Otani's platoon became pinned down in a wheat field by concentrated fire from enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Realizing the danger confronting his platoon, Staff Sergeant Otani left his cover and shot and killed a sniper who was firing with deadly effect upon the platoon. Followed by a steady stream of machine gun bullets, Staff Sergeant Otani then dashed across the open wheat field toward the foot of a cliff, and directed his men to crawl to the cover of the cliff. When the movement of the platoon drew heavy enemy fire, he dashed along the cliff toward the left flank, exposing himself to enemy fire. By attracting the attention of the enemy, he enabled the men closest to the cliff to reach cover. Organizing these men to guard against possible enemy counterattack, Staff Sergeant Otani again made his way across the open field, shouting instructions to the stranded men while continuing to draw enemy fire. Reaching the rear of the platoon position, he took partial cover in a shallow ditch and directed covering fire for the men who had begun to move forward. At this point, one of his men became seriously wounded. Ordering his men to remain under cover, Staff Sergeant Otani crawled to the wounded soldier who was lying on open ground in full view of the enemy. Dragging the wounded soldier to a shallow ditch, Staff Sergeant Otani proceeded to render first aid treatment, but was mortally wounded by machine gun fire.

Staff Sergeant Otani'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.

Additional information
On July 15,1944, the 442nd had three weeks of combat under their belt, rapidly advancing and liberating heavily booby-trapped and extensively mined little towns on the way to the Arno River - to cutoff Livorno, the Italian naval base. The 442nd Cannon Co. had put out some 350 rounds. The 2nd Battalion (Co. E, F, G and H) seized two more hills. When the Co. G platoon, led by Sgt Otani, was pinned down on an open wheat field near Pieve di Santa Luce, he retaliated with machine gun fire, shot down a sniper who was firing and wounding his men. Some reached cover by the cliff where he organized them to counterattack and to direct fire while his men moved forward. Otani raced back across the open field to attract enemy attention so that the rest of his platoon could reach safety. Seeing one of them fall, he crawled to the wounded soldier, dragged him to a shallow ditch. While dressing the soldier's wounds, he was mortally wounded by machine gun fire.

His Issei parents, Mr. and Mrs. Yaichi Otani received the DSC medal at an impressive ceremony at Gila River Relocation Camp on March 8, 1945, from the commandant of the Luke Army Air Force Base near Phoenix. WRA Project Director L. H. Bennett said that 916 sons were in the Army from families at Gila River; 12 KIA, 44 wounded. (PC, 3/3/45.) S/Sgt. Kazuo Otani's DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest honor for extraordinary heroism, on June 21, 2000 at White House ceremonies. (See above.)

'He was glad to go, in fact. He figured he'd fight for his country...He was kind of quiet. He never talked back. He just went over and did his job and proved his loyalty, like all Japanese Americans.'(August 2, 2000, Hokubei Mainichi)
--Mr. Ted Otani, brother of Kazuo

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