Otani was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000 for his bravery in 1944 during WWII.

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Army 1
Staff Sergeant 1
02 Jun 1918 1
Visalia, California 2
California 1
15 Jul 1944 1
near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy 3

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Kazuo Otani 1
02 Jun 1918 1
Visalia, California 2
California 1
Male 1
15 Jul 1944 3
near Pieve Di S. Luce, Italy 4
Cause: KIA 2
Liberty Veterans Cemetery, Fresno, CA 5

World War II 1

Army 1
Staff Sergeant 1
Service Start Date:
1942 1
Service End Date:
1944 1
Enlistment date:
16 Feb 1942 6
Enlistment location:
Indianapolis, Indiana 6
Casualty Cause:
Hostile, Died 1
Casualty Date:
15 Jul 1944 1
Casualty Place:
Italy 1
Casualty Reason:
Gun, Small Arms Fire 1
Medal of Honor 3
Company G, 2d Battalion, 442 Infantry Regiment 7

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Medal of Honor Citation


The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Staff Sergeant Kazuo Otani (ASN: 39089432), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company G, 2d Battalion, 442d Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 34th Infantry Division, in action against the enemy 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.

Medal Awarded: 21 June 2000

Action Date: 15-Jul-44

Service: Army

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Company: Company G

Battalion: 2d Battalion

Regiment: 442d Regimental Combat Team

Division: 34th Infantry Division

Medal of Honor awarded posthumously 56 years later

Kazuo Otani—of Japanese heritage—was part of a group of 22 Asian-Americans who had their medals upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2000. The upgrade was part of a Congressional measure that reviewed the actions WWII soldiers of Asian background who may have been passed over for the Medal of Honor on account of racial bias. As Otani was killed in action in 1944, his medal was awarded posthumously and was given to his family. 

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