Author: Secretary Shinseki
Japanese American Veterans Association, 7/31/2009
Puka Puka Parades, September 2009, 8/2009
Article with summary of US Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki’s speech given July 27, 2009 at the Korean War Memorial describing four Medal of Honor Recipients including 100th World War II veteran Corporal Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.
Washington, DC. On July 27, 2009 at the Korean War Memorial, in a ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of the North Korean invasion of South Korea, Secretary of US Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki paid tribute to 17 nation military forces, including nearly two million Americans, who served in the Korean War. He described the profound acts of gallantry of four recipients of the Medal of Honor during the Korean War, including 100th WWII veteran Corporal Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.
Secretary Shinseki reminded the audience that nearly two million American in every branch of the military served in Korea, fighting and dying at “Pork Chop Hill” and “Heartbreak Ridge”; in towns like Chipyong-ni, Pusan, and Chosin Reservoir; and in unnamed locations known only by grid coordinates or hilltop elevations. 54,246 Americans gave their lives; more than 103,000 were wounded; over 8,000 went missing, and more than 7,000 were captured, 40 percent of whom died horrifically in captivity. From their ranks came a few who performed acts of valor so profound that they were awarded our Nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, 131 awarded for combat action in Korea, 94 of them posthumously.
Secretary Shinseki said Miyamura volunteered for Korea War duty and was awarded the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry on April 24, 1951, near Taejon-ni. When a massive enemy attack threatened to overrun his company’s defense, Corporal Miyamura fought off the attack in his sector by downing 10 of the enemy with his bayonet in hand-to-hand fighting. Under continuing assault, he aided the wounded, expedited their evacuation, and then ordered the remainder of his squad to withdraw while he single-handedly manned his machine gun until it ran out of ammunition. Severely wounded, he held his ground and was last seen by his comrades in a hand-to-hand fight against an overwhelming number of the enemy. He personally killed 50 of the enemy that night, saved the members of his squad, and managed to survive severe injury and a long, brutal captivity as a prisoner of war.” [Though presumed dead because his body was not recovered when the position was retaken, Miyamura had been subsequently captured by the enemy and, while a prisoner of war, was unaware of being awarded the Medal of Honor. It was not until he was repatriated over two years later that he found he was to be honored. President Dwight Eisenhower personally presented the award to him on October 27, 1953].
Secretary Shinseki asked the crowd to remember what the Korean people have never forgotten, that the guarantors of the democracy that is, today, the prosperous Republic of Korea were the young, who gave so preciously, nearly 60 years ago, to defend freedom and liberty on a distant, war-torn peninsula. He reminded them that a new generation of Americans walks in the boots of the Korean War veterans and because they do, our country remains the land of the free, the home of the brave and the guardian of freedom and liberty for others.
You can read Secretary Shinseki’s speech in its entirety at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website: