Cpl Hiroshi ‘Hershey’ Miyamura – MOH Recipient, Secret of the Korean War
Young Army Cpl Hershey Miyamura was a hero whose exploits were a closely guarded secret during the Korean War. Why? Because releasing them would have cost him his life as he languished in a POW camp.
Then Cpl Hershey Miyamura was a young Army member who returned home from WWII without seeing action with the 442nd. But a few years later, war broke out in Korea, and he reenlisted knowing full well that he would be deployed. He was a Japanese-American soldier from Gallup, New Mexico.
Closely Guarded Secret
Home of Heroes wrote:
Hershey had been in the field almost continually for seven months as the joint United Nations Forces were driving to retake Seoul. During the darkness of night on April 22, 1951, the Chinese attacked in force along the Imjin River. By dawn, the swarming enemy had overwhelmed the defending forces and the Americans began to withdraw across the river. Hershey’s squad of less than a dozen machine gunners and five riflemen was ordered to take up defensive positions on a nearby hill. No one expected them to last long, just to delay the inevitable onslaught of the enemy forces. That onslaught came with bugles and whistles on the night of April 24th.
For hours, the enemy poured over the hill in waves. Manning his machine-gun in the face of the horrible assault, Corporal Miyamura watched as the sheer force of numbers combined with deadly rifle fire and exploding grenades began to decimate his squad. As the remnants of his squad struggled for survival the young corporal noticed a mounting force to his flank. Without hesitation he jumped from his shelter to attack with his bayonet, incredibly overtaking 10 or more of the enemy and buying his embattled soldiers a few more precious moments. Then, returning to his soldiers, he began treating their wounds and directing their evacuation.
Suddenly another wave swarmed the position. The brave young corporal returned to his 30-caliber machine-gun to rain effective fire on the encroaching horde until his ammunition was gone. His squad almost annihilated, he ordered the remaining men to withdraw to safety while he set about disabling the machine-gun before it could be captured by the enemy. Then, as they swarmed over his position, he literally bayoneted his way through them to reach a second gun emplacement. From this position, he ordered the remaining Americans on the hill to withdraw while he covered them with effective fire. It was the last he ever saw of his men or they of him.
Wave after wave was thrown against the hill now held by a single machine gunner. When finally he could hold out no longer, Corporal Miyamura sought shelter in a covered bunker. The area in front of the machine-gun he had left behind was littered with the bodies of more than 50 enemy, tribute to one soldier’s determination to hold them at bay while his men pulled back. But it was only the beginning of a long night for what may have been the only living American on the hill, surrounded by thousands of fanatical Chinese Communists. Wounded, he struggled to return to safety, engaging chance encounters with the enemy in desperate hand-to-hand combat. By dawn the exhausted corporal found himself playing dead in a ditch as literally hundreds of enemy walked past his prostrate form. One of them, a Chinese officer, was not fooled by the bloodied body laying so still along the road. Hershey was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp where the worst of his ordeal began.
Miyamura spent the ensuing days and weeks inside a Chinese prison camp, thinking of his men and assuming he would be court-martialed if he was ever to go home. He did not know their fate, and thought they had all been killed or wounded. Actually, many of them reached American lines because of his heroic actions.
When the Americans arrived on Auguest 23, 1953 to take him home after an agreement with China, he thought the MPs would arrest him. An Army Officer asked him if he was Hiroshi H. Myamura. He nodded. Instead of being court martialed for losing his men, the officer said, “Congratulations. You’ve been awarded the Medal of Honor.”
His actions had to be kept secret for the 28 months he was in the prison camp, because if it was known that he was the one who killed so many of the enemy, he would have been summarily executed. Sgt Hiroshi H. (Hershey) Miyamura received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 27, 1953.