The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Armed Services, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
The Medal of Honor was established by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1862 and later amended in 1918 and 1963.
World War II
The 100th/442nd has been recognized as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of the U.S. military. The soldiers who served in the two units were awarded 18,143 individual decorations for valor, including 52 Distinguished Cross (DSC) medals.
However, only one soldier, Private First Class Sadao Munemori of the 100th, had received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the war. In April 1946, a year after he was killed in action, the DSC Munemori had been awarded was upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Munemori of Los Angeles, California had joined the 100th as a replacement, one of many assigned to replenish the depleted battalion.
Vindication in Year 2000
More than 50 years after the war ended, legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii resulted in the military’s upgrading of 19 of the 52 DSCs and one of the Silver Stars that had been awarded to the members of the 100th/442nd during World War II. Nine of the men had been killed in action. The medals were presented by President Bill Clinton in a White House ceremony to veterans and family members representing veterans who were deceased.
Seven of the men whose medals were upgraded served in the 100th Infantry Battalion: Mikio Hasemoto (KIA), Shizuya Hayashi, Yeiki Kobashigawa, Masato Nakae, Shinyei Nakamine (KIA), Karou Moto, and Allan Ohata, In 2000, only Hayashi and Kobashigawa were still living.
Richard “Sus” Yamamoto, Fumie Yamamoto, and Maggie Ikeda were invited by President Clinton and the Secretary of the Army to the ceremonies honoring the Medal of Honor recipients in recognition of the almost ten years they spent identifying and copying documents and photographs pertaining to the 100th and 442nd in the National Archives. Their research proved to be vital supporting information for the medal review.
The following statistics demonstrate the significance of the eight Medals of Honor awarded to these men of the 100th Battalion:
• Approximately 16 million men and women served in the United States military during World War II. The total number who served in the 100th was about 3150.
• Of the 465 Medals of Honor awarded to military personnel during this war (including one in honor of the Unknown Soldier), 287 were awarded to U.S. Army ground forces.
• An army division consists of roughly 15,000 – 16,000 men. Some of the well known Army divisions during World War II and the Medals of Honor that were awarded to their members: 101st Airborne Division – 2; 82nd Airborne Division – 3; 34th Infantry Division (excluding the 100th/442nd) – 9; 1st Infantry Division – 10.
Korean War II
Hiroshi Hershey Miyamura served with the 100th in World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor in the Korean War.