Saturday, October 31, 2009

Medal of Honor Long Overdue for Heroic Hawaiian

The Medal of Honor will likely finally be awarded to this heroic Hawaiian warrior. His story is inspiring in every way. Where do we find such men?

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Medal of Honor Likely for Isle Man

October 28, 2009
Knight Ridder/Tribune

A Maui man who gave his life in a one-man stand during the Korean War against "overwhelming numbers" of enemy troops so fellow Soldiers could survive," is expected to be approved today for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

The addition of Army Pfc. Anthony T. Kahoohanohano's name to the Medal of Honor roll represents a decadelong effort by his family and Hawaii lawmakers to upgrade the Distinguished Service Cross he received and to give him the recognition they say he deserves.

Kahoohanohano, who was with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, of the 7th Infantry Division, was in charge of a machine gun squad supporting a company of Soldiers as a much larger enemy force advanced in the vicinity of Chup'a-ri, Korea, on Sept. 1, 1951.

Fight to the Death

According to his posthumously awarded Distinguished Service Cross citation, as the men fell back, Kahoohanohano -- although already wounded in the shoulder -- ordered his squad to a more defensible position while he gathered grenades and returned alone to the machine gun post.

As enemy troops tried to overrun Kahoohanohano's position, the 21-year-old from Wailuku fought back with bullets, grenades and then his hands, according to the citation.

"Private Kahoohanohano fought fiercely and courageously, delivering deadly accurate fire into the ranks of the onrushing enemy" until he was killed, the citation states.

A counterattack was launched, and the U.S. troops found 11 dead enemy Soldiers in front of Kahoohanohano's position, and two in the gun emplacement itself who had been beaten to death with an entrenching tool.

The Distinguished Service Cross was presented to the Soldier's family on Maui in 1952.

The Medal of Honor award is expected to be approved today with President Obama's signing of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act in the White House Rose Garden.

The upgrade of Kahoohanohano's recognition for valor represents a 10-year quest by the family started by Abel Kahoohanohano Sr., one of Anthony's brothers, and taken up by Abel's son, George Kahoohanohano, after his father died.

A 10-year Effort

A recommendation for a Medal of Honor was made by the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink in 2001 but the request was denied by the Army. U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, then took up the cause.

George Kahoohanohano said his uncle's actions "more than earned the Medal of Honor."

Then-Army Secretary Pete Geren wrote to Akaka in March saying that after giving the request "careful, personal consideration, I have determined that the Medal of Honor is the appropriate award to recognize Private First Class Kahoohanohano's heroic actions."

All six Kahoohanohano brothers served in the military -- four in the active duty Army, one in the Marines and another in the National Guard.

Madeline Kahoohanohano remembered Anthony, her brother-in-law, as a fearless man of his word. The son of a police officer, he was a football and basketball standout at St. Anthony's School for Boys.

"He didn't seem to be afraid of anyone," Madeline Kahoohanohano said. "He always was a toughie. He always used to stand up -- even for his younger brothers. He would step up and protect his younger brothers."

From Knight Ridder/Tribune

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Charles M. Grist

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