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Masao Awakuni (19 April 1918 in Hawaii – 18 January 1991 in Kaneohe, Hawaii) was a Japanese American Private First Class in the United States Army during World War II. He also was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross which was awarded for having distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy in circumstances which do not justify the award of the Medal of Honor.


Distinguished Service Cross citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Private Masao Awakuni (ASN: 30102030), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with C, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate), attached to the 34th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 8 February 1944, near Cassino, Italy. While advancing in an attack, Private Awakuni's company encountered an enemy tank upon which was mounted a 75-mm. gun. The enemy tank immediately went into action, supported by intense machine gun and sniper fire, forcing the company to take cover. Rifle grenadiers failed to stop the firing from the tank. Private Awakuni was called from the support platoon to attempt to fire at the tank with his rocket launcher. He worked his way across fifty yards of open ground and arrived at a point only thirty yards from the hostile armor. Although he had poor protective cover, Private Awakuni coolly took aim, and with his first shell hit the tread of the tank. His second shell was a dud. Having disclosed his position from the first two shots, Private Awakuni was subjected to heavy enemy fire. Despite the deadly peril facing him, he calmly took aim for a third time and made a direct hit on the tank, causing it to burst into flames. Private Awakuni then sought the sparse protection of a nearby rock and was forced to remain in this position until darkness permitted his return to friendly lines. For ten hours he was pinned down by deadly sniper fire, and in his attempt to return to his lines in darkness, he was wounded in the arm by machine gun fire. Private Awakuni's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 34th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.[1]


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