Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Despite being the son of immigrants and having teachers struggle to pronounce his name, Hiroshi Miyamura saw himself as fully American. Miyamura would eventually serve in multiple military conflicts and demonstrate extraordinary bravery in defeating a wave of enemy soldiers during the Korean War. Hiroshi was captured there, and was secretly awarded the Medal of Honor while a POW. He received the medal upon his release.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
It wasn’t Hiroshi’s first war. Born in 1925 in Gallup, New Mexico, Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura was the son of Japanese immigrants, yet he never saw himself as anything but American. He earned the nickname “Hershey” because his teachers couldn’t pronounce his first name.
When the Japanese internment began, cities like Gallup were further inland from the Pacific, and Japanese-Americans were spared from the mandate. Even though there were incidents of bigotry against Japanese-Americans in Gallup, that didn’t stop Hiroshi from enlisting in the US Army and serving in the all Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment during WWII.
Yet the timing didn’t line up - the war ended before he even reached Italy. Hiroshi reenlisted in 1948 and found himself fighting in Korea 3 years later as a machine gun squad leader in the 3d Infantry Division.
With an enemy attack threatening to seize their hill in Taejon-ni, Hiroshi leaped out of cover and killed 10 enemy soldiers with a bayonet. He then administered first aid, evacuated his men, and manned a machine gun until he ran out of ammunition.
It wasn’t over. Hiroshi bayoneted his way to another gun and manned it until the last round, killing 50 enemy soldiers while the company withdrew. Overrun and wounded, he decided to play dead. The Chinese forces eventually realized he wasn’t and took him as a prisoner of war.
Hiroshi would remain a POW for nearly two-and-a-half years, enduring starvation and torture. He was certain he would be court-martialed for the loss of his men should he ever be released. In fact, neither his family nor the US government knew he was a POW for a year after his capture. Once they learned that he was still alive, Hiroshi’s Medal of Honor citation was written and classified top secret. The Chinese may not have released Hiroshi had they known he inflicted such a toll on their forces.
When Hiroshi was released in 1953, a US Army General welcomed him at the South Korean border and informed him he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. In October of that year, President Eisenhower received Sergeant Hiroshi Miyamura at the White House and presented him with the award. After the Korean War, he stayed in Gallup, where he and his wife Terry raised three children, and owned a gas station and repair shop. Decades after his own teachers couldn’t pronounce his name, the city of Gallup named a high school after him.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Declan Rohrs is our producer, León Pescador is our associate producer, Nathan Corson is our engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.