February 2011

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Private Barney Hajiro is said to have epitomized his unit’s brash motto, “Go for Broke!”

“During one of the 442nd’s fiercest campaigns in dense forests of France’s Vosges Mountains to free the towns of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, Hajiro on Oct. 29, 1944, led a charge  on “Suicide Hill” drawing fire and single-handedly destroying two machine gun nests and killing two enemy snipers before being wounded by a third machine gun.

“The effort by the nisei soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s I and K companies to rescue Texas 36th Division’s “Lost Battalion” is considered to be one of the key battles in U.S. Army history… “There was shooting coming from all sides. I got hit in my arm … my BAR was hit … and then my helmet was blown off my head.”

“During the battle, an enemy bullet had penetrated Hajiro’s left wrist and severed a nerve. Another bullet had entered his shoulder. His left cheek also was scarred by an enemy bullet.

“Several days earlier Hajiro, while acting as a sentry near Bruyeres, helped allied troops by attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle, killing or wounding two enemy snipers.

“On Oct. 22, he and fellow soldier took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the rest as prisoners.

“Edward Yamasaki, president of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s I Company chapter, in his book —  “And Then There Were Eight” — noted that I Company started the battle with 140 riflemen. “Then there only eight soldiers standing at the end.” …To Read more Click HERE.

Medal of Honor Citation:
Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as “Suicide Hill” by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro’s heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

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Matthew G. Axelson was born on June 25th 1976 in Cupertino, CA. He graduated from CSU Chico and went on to join the US Navy to become a member of their elite special warfare team, the Navy SEALs.

Many Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives hide among the treacherous peaks of Afghanistan, making searches and missions difficult and dangerous. However, for Navy Seals called in to search the hostile areas, it’s just another day’s work.

Petty Officer Axelson, along with Petty Officer Dietz, were part of a four-man reconnaissance team sent on one such mission, tasked with finding a key Taliban leader east of Asadabad, Afghanistan. As the team made their way through the mountainous region, Taliban sympathizers spotted the Seals, and alerted terrorist fighters of the team’s presence.

A deadly firefight ensued between the four Seals and an enemy force of at least 30 fighters. Positioning themselves as best they could, the team realized they needed help. They radioed for reinforcements – and soon, a MH-47 Chinook helicopter was on its way to help in the fight.

However, the Taliban fighters spotted the Chinook as it made its way toward the Seals’ position, and they launched a RPG toward the aircraft, shooting it down and killing all 16 men aboard.

The Seals knew their chances were slim, but they continued to hold their ground. Both Axelson and Dietz were severely injured, but they continued to fight, taking several of the enemy with them to their graves.

Although Axelson and Dietz died from their wounds, their actions allowed one of the Seals to evade the enemy and escape. A few days later, the surviving Seal was recovered by U.S. forces.

Both Axelson and Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross on Sept. 13, 2006.

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