Colorado Medal of Honor soldiers George Sakato, Robert Maxwell honored on stamp sheet

DENVER - Two Colorado veterans are being recognized by the U.S. Postal Service.

The Postal Service is releasing a stamp on Veterans Day to honor the troops who earned the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Only 464 troops were singled out in WWII to receive the Medal of Honor. Of that, nearly half died as a result of their heroic actions. They received the honor posthumously.

Two of the twelve featured on the sheet are George T. Sakato, of Denver, and Robert Maxwell, who currently lives in Oregon, but entered the service in Crestwell, Co. Sakota is seen in the lower left corner of the stamp sheet. Maxwell is the third man from the top, on the right side of sheet.

Sakota served in the Army. He earned the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in action on October 29, 1944.

He remembers the battle vividly.

"I had a Thompson machine gun, so I ran this way and that way.  [I] Zig zag [sic] up the hill to take the positions the Germans had.  They tell me I shot 12 and captured 37.  I know 20, but I don't know about 37," Sakoto said last week.

Here is his story from the Postal Service:

Private George T. Sakato distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 October 1944, on hill 617 in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France. After his platoon had virtually destroyed two enemy defense lines, during which he personally killed five enemy soldiers and captured four, his unit was pinned down by heavy enemy fire. Disregarding the enemy fire, Private Sakato made a one-man rush that encouraged his platoon to charge and destroy the enemy strongpoint. While his platoon was reorganizing, he proved to be the inspiration of his squad in halting a counter-attack on the left flank during which his squad leader was killed. Taking charge of the squad, he continued his relentless tactics, using an enemy rifle and P-38 pistol to stop an organized enemy attack. During this entire action, he killed 12 and wounded two, personally captured four and assisted his platoon in taking 34 prisoners. By continuously ignoring enemy fire, and by his gallant courage and fighting spirit, he turned impending defeat into victory and helped his platoon complete its mission. Private Sakato'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.

Maxwell also served in the Army in France. Here is his story from the U.S.P.S.:

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 7 September 1944, near Besancon, France. Technician 5th Grade Maxwell and 3 other soldiers, armed only with .45 caliber automatic pistols, defended the battalion observation post against an overwhelming onslaught by enemy infantrymen in approximately platoon strength, supported by 20mm. flak and machinegun fire, who had infiltrated through the battalion's forward companies and were attacking the observation post with machinegun, machine pistol, and grenade fire at ranges as close as 10 yards. Despite a hail of fire from automatic weapons and grenade launchers, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell aggressively fought off advancing enemy elements and, by his calmness, tenacity, and fortitude, inspired his fellows to continue the unequal struggle. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown in the midst of his squad, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell unhesitatingly hurled himself squarely upon it, using his blanket and his unprotected body to absorb the full force of the explosion. This act of instantaneous heroism permanently maimed Technician 5th Grade Maxwell, but saved the lives of his comrades in arms and facilitated maintenance of vital military communications during the temporary withdrawal of the battalion's forward headquarters.

 

 

A previous, 20-cent Medal of Honor stamp was issued in 1983.