Colton High “Fact of the Day” – Sept. 22


Courtesy Discover Nikkei

Henry Sakato was the first Japanese-American student at Colton High School. He went on to become an American hero in WWII.

Alexander Sanchez, Pepper Bough Staff Writer

Colton High School opened in 1895. It is one of the oldest high schools in the Inland Empire. In this daily feature, we celebrate Colton High’s rich history.

Henry Sakato was the first Japanese student to study at Colton High School. Henry went to Colton schools from grades one through 12.

Henry was on the varsity football team during his junior and senior years in 1932-33. Additionally, he also played basketball and was on the class B track team. In his junior year, Henry went to the C.I.F track finals at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the same year the Olympics were hosted by the city of Los Angeles.

In 1940, Henry was drafted into the army. He joined the all Japanese-American 100th battalion that fought in Italy. He was named platoon sergeant. In one mission he got injured when a rifle grenade was shot through a window of a house he was holed up in after taking a German corporal prisoner. For this he was awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, Henry returned home to take a position as an equipment mechanic for the U.S. Postal Service. He married, raised a family, and lived the life of a true American hero.