Army officials have dedicated an administrative and training facility at the West Los Angeles Army Reserve Center to Pfc. Sadao S. Munemori, who sacrificed his life on a battlefield in northern Italy during World War II to save two men in his unit.
Munemori was a member of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed almost entirely of Japanese-Americans. The unit was pinned down by enemy gunfire on April 5, 1945, near Seravezza, Italy.
Munemori, who took command of his squad when his leader was wounded, knocked out two German machine-gun emplacements before a return volley forced him to seek cover. As he approached a shell crater occupied by his comrades, a grenade bounced off his helmet and rolled toward the hole. Munemori threw himself on the grenade and smothered the explosion with his body. He was 21.
"His bravery inspired other soldiers and helped pave the way for other soldiers to advance," Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, Army chief of staff, wrote in a letter read aloud during a dedication ceremony last Sunday at the remodeled building, now called Pfc. Sadao S. Munemori Hall, near San Vicente and Wilshire boulevards. "I know that Sadao's leadership, self-dedication and love of country will serve as an example for every soldier that enters this building."
Munemori received the military's highest award, the Medal of Honor, for his action. Among the crowd of 600 at Sunday's dedication was one of the men in the crater, Jimi Oda. Also present were some of Munemori's relatives, veterans of the 442nd and other members of the Japanese-American community.
Munemori grew up in Long Beach and Glendale. While Munemori was serving in the Army, his family was held in an internment camp at Manzanar, Calif.