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He was age 25 at his death. He was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Medal of Honor citation
Yano's Medal of Honor recognized his conduct in frontline fighting in Vietnam in 1969. He grabbed burning ammunition and threw it from the aircraft after being seriously wounded by a grenade explosion aboard a helicopter.
The words of Yano's citation explain:
Sfc. Yano distinguished himself while serving with the Air Cavalry Troop. Sfc. Yano was performing the duties of crew chief aboard the troop's command-and-control helicopter during action against enemy forces entrenched in dense jungle. From an exposed position in the face of intense small arms and antiaircraft fire he delivered suppressive fire upon the enemy forces and marked their positions with smoke and white phosphorus grenades, thus enabling his troop commander to direct accurate and effective artillery fire against the hostile emplacements. A grenade, exploding prematurely, covered him with burning phosphorus, and left him severely wounded. Flaming fragments within the helicopter caused supplies and ammunition to detonate. Dense white smoke filled the aircraft, obscuring the pilot's vision and causing him to lose control. Although having the use of only 1 arm and being partially blinded by the initial explosion, Sfc. Yano completely disregarded his welfare and began hurling blazing ammunition from the helicopter. In so doing he inflicted additional wounds upon himself, yet he persisted until the danger was past. Sfc. Yano's indomitable courage and profound concern for his comrades averted loss of life and additional injury to the rest of the crew. By his conspicuous gallantry at the cost of his life, in the highest traditions of the military service, Sfc. Yano has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Yano is the namesake of the USNS Yano (T-AKR-297), a Shughart class cargo ship. She is a 'roll-on roll-off' non-combat United States Navy designated a "Large, Medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off" (LMSR) ship.
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Vietnam War
- List of Asian American Medal of Honor recipients
- Posthumous recognition
- US Army Center of Military History (CMH), "Medal of Honor Recipients, Vietnam (M-Z)"; retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "Big Island Salute," Rafu Shimpo (Los Angeles). July 12 2012; retrieved 2012-12-31.
- "Yano, Rodney J T. (MOH), SFC" at TogetherWeServed.com; retrieved 2012-12-31.
- CMH, "Asian Pacific American Medal of Honor recipients"; retrieved 2012-12-28.