Hiroshi Miyamura is presented with the Medal of Honor by President Eisenhower. (Courtesy:Department of Defense)
The son of Japanese immigrants, Miyamura grew up in Gallup. After the United States entered World War II, Miyamura attempted to join the military, but he was deemed not eligible to serve and given a Four-C “alien” status because of his Japanese ancestry. Later that exclusionary policy changed, and toward the end of the war, Miyamura was allowed to join the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry.
With the start of the Korean War, Miyamura, an Army reservist, was called up for active duty. On the evening of April 24, 1951, Miyamura, a machine gun squad leader, along with fellow squad leader Joe Annello and their men, came under attack by Chinese forces.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Miyamura, “aware of the imminent danger to his men unhesitatingly jumped from his shelter wielding his bayonet in close hand-to-hand combat killing approximately 10 of the enemy.”
Miyamura then returned to his position and administered first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation. With another assault by the Chinese, Miyamura manned his machine gun until the ammunition was expended. He ordered the squad to withdraw while he stayed behind to render the gun inoperative. He then bayoneted his way to a second gun emplacement and assisted in its operation.
As the attack intensified, Miyamura ordered his men to fall back while he remained to cover their movement. He killed more than 50 of the enemy before his ammunition was depleted and he was severely wounded.
“Even at the cost of his own life, he made a decision to cover his own troops,” Annello says in the documentary. “That, to me, distinguishes between an ordinary man and an extraordinary man.”
In October 1953, Miyamura received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House. “I’ve always felt humble among people when I wear the medal,” Miyamura told the filmmakers. “I know a lot of us wear this medal for those that never received any recognition.”
The story of Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura and his extraordinary valor in combat during the Korean War are explored in the fourth episode of “Medal of Honor,” an eight-part series that tells the stories of eight recipients of the nation’s highest military honor. The series became available on the Netflix streaming service in early November 2018.
The docu-series "Medal of Honor,” focuses on the lives of eight recipients of the nation’s highest military honor for valor. The honor has been presented to fewer than 3,600 Americans since Abraham Lincoln signed it into law in 1861. Comprising interviews with family members, historians, and servicemen, along with intense recreations of events and archival footage, “Medal of Honor” showcases historical events in Italy, Germany, and France during World War II, along the 38th parallel during the Korean War, in Laos during the deadliest year of the Vietnam War, and in the mountains of Afghanistan.