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Congressional Record: March 22, 2001 (Senate)
Page S2725-S2726                         


  Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, today I had the honor of presenting a 
personal letter to Mr. Hiroshi H. Miyamura at an event honoring Mr. 
Miyamura and commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War. Mr. 
Miyamura is a native New Mexican, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a 
true American hero.
  In honor of Mr. Miyamura and in recognition of the events surrounding 
his contribution in the Korean War, I ask unanimous consent that a copy 
of my letter to him and a short historical sketch about Mr. Miyamura be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:
                                                   March 21, 2001.
       Mr. Miyamura: I would like to thank the Fairfax-Lee chapter 
     of the Association of the U.S. Army for inviting me to 
     celebrate today's guest of honor. I sincerely apologize for 
     my absence at this event.
       Recognizing the awesome deeds of our men during the Korean 
     War during the 50th Anniversary of that conflict is a 
     humbling task. And, today, we meet to recognize the heroism 
     of one particular soldier, Mr. Hiroshi H. Miyamura. Mr. 
     Miyamura's story is not only one of tremendous courage, his 
     has an element of intrigue. Mr. Miyamura is also America's 
     first secret hero.
       Mr. Miyamura is a native New Mexican, and still resides 
     there. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and served 
     in a unique special Japanese-American regiment, but the war 
     ended before he saw combat. He got out of the service after 
     WWII and went back to Udall where he married his sweetheart, 
     who had been in an American Internment Camp during the war.
       One year after reenlisting in the Army Reserves, North 
     Korea invaded South Korea. At this time, Corporal Miyamura 
     was activated and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. For 
     his actions on the night of April 24, 1951, Mr. Miyamura was 
     awarded the Medal of Honor. However, his citation was 
     classified top-secret and filed away in the Department of the 
     Army's tightest security vault. On April 25, he was captured 
     and held as a Prisoner of War (POW) for more than twenty-
     seven months.
       When Sergeant Miyamura, who was promoted while in 
     captivity, was finally released on August 20, 1953, in a POW 
     exchange between the United Nations command and the 
     Communists, he was greeted by Brigadier General Ralph Osborne 
     and informed for the first time that he had been awarded the 
     Medal of Honor. According to General Osborne, the citation 
     had been held top-secret because ``if the Reds knew what he 
     had done to a good number of their soldiers just before he 
     was taken prisoner, they might have taken revenge on this 
     young man. He might not have come back.'' Sergeant Miyamura 
     was presented the Medal of Honor by President Eisenhower on 
     October 27, 1953.
       Words will fail to appropriately encompass the gratitude 
     and indebtedness Americans have to Mr. Miyamura and his 
     compatriots. The freedom and prosperity we enjoy is a 
     constant reminder of our Veterans' contribution. As a fellow 
     New Mexican and admirer of the sacrifices you made for our 
     great country, I personally thank you, Mr. Hiroshi H. 
           Sincerely yours,
                                                 Pete V. Domenici,
     U.S. Senator.

                   [From Military History, Apr. 1996]

   For More Than Two Years, Hiroshi Miyamura's Medal of Honor Was a 
                         Tightly Guarded Secret

                           (By Edward Hymoff)

       It was the beginning of a long, chilly April night in 1951. 
     Red Chinese bugles howled and whistles shrieked for the 
     umpteenth time. ``They're comin' again,'' the slightly built 
     corporal whispered to his machine-gun detail. Flares burst 
     above the ridge, and an enemy mortar barrage again began to 
     creep toward the American positions.
       The ghostly light of falling flares played across the face 
     of the machine-gun section's

[[Page S2726]]

     leader, accentuating the young soldier's Asian features. He 
     could have been mistaken for the enemy, but for the uniform 
     he wore and his New Mexican accent. Shells straddled the 
     trench. The bugles and whistles grew louder as shadowy 
     figures clambered up the steep, shell-pocked slope.
       ``Stay put,'' snapped the corporal. He yanked his bayonet 
     from its scabbard and clamped it on his carbine. ``Cover 
     me,'' he ordered. He pulled himself from the trench, 
     slithered a few feet on his belly and then sprang upright and 
     charged the advancing enemy soldiers.
       More than two years later, U.S. Army Sergeant Hiroshi H. 
     Miyamura remembered that rainy night of April 24, 1951, as if 
     it were yesterday. He had been the Company H, 7th Infantry 
     Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, corporal who had ``charged'' 
     that night. Now, on August 20, 1953, Miyamura climbed down 
     from a Soviet-built military truck with 19 fellow prisoners 
     of war at a place called Panmunjom, which he had heard 
     mentioned while in a Communist Chinese prison camp in North 
     Korea. He and his repatriated POW buddies were hustled into 
     military ambulances for a 15-minute drive to another 
     unloading point, Freedom Village, where doctors, nurses and 
     medics took over.
       Pale and undernourished, the newly freed Americans shucked 
     off their faded blue Chinese uniforms and showered. They were 
     examined by doctors, dusted with DDT and issued oversize 
     fatigues. Each former POW was then handed a large canteen cup 
     filled with ice cream. If the doctors declared them 
     physically and mentally up to it, they were interrogated by 
     intelligence officers and then led out to meet the press.
       As Sergeant Miyamura (who had been promoted while in 
     captivity) was led to the microphones and news cameras, he 
     was greeted by Brig. Gen. Ralph Osborne, the Freedom Village 
     commander, who raised his hands for silence. ``Gentlemen of 
     the press,'' the general announced. ``I want to take this 
     occasion to welcome the greatest V.I.P., the most 
     distinguished guest to pass through Freedom Village.
       ``Sergeant Miyamura, it is my pleasure to inform you that 
     you have been awarded the Medal of Honor.'' Miyamura was 
     visibly shaken. ``What?'' he gulped. ``I've been awarded what 
       During the nearly 130 years that the Medal of Honor has 
     been awarded for ``conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at 
     the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty,'' none of 
     the other recipients have learned about the honor quite the 
     way that 27-year old Sergeant Miyamura did. Nineteen months 
     before his release from captivity, a Medal of Honor citation 
     dated December 21, 1951, had been filed away in the 
     Department of the Army's tightest security vault. Classified 
     ``top-secret,'' it was finally removed from its Pentagon 
     security vault at the start of Operation Big Switch, the 
     exchange of POWs between the United Nations command and the 
     Communists, and delivered to U.S. Eighth Army headquarters in 
     Seoul shortly after the Korean armistice was signed in late 
     July 1953.
       General Osborne began reading aloud from the citation that 
     had been handed to him less than a half-hour before. ``On the 
     night of 24 April, Company H was occupying a defensive 
     position near Taejon-ni, Korea, when the enemy fanatically 
     attacked, threatening to overrun the position. Corporal 
     Miyamura, a machine-gun squad leader, aware of the danger to 
     his men, unhesitatingly jumped from his shelter. . . .''
       As the general continued reading, Sergeant Miyamura clearly 
     recalled those events. A major Chinese offensive had cracked 
     the U.N. line. The 3rd Division had been ordered to pull 
     back. H Company withdrew under a heavy enemy mortar barrage 
     followed by two separate battalion-size probes. Miyamura was 
     positioned between a light and a heavy machine gun, directing 
     their fire. Shortly before midnight, the Chinese again 
     advanced up the slope. He called out to his gunners, ``Short 
     bursts, short bursts!'' and switched his carbine to automatic 
     fire, squeezing off short bursts. He also hurled grenades 
     down the slope.
       The attackers were finally stopped. Twenty minutes or a 
     half-hour passed. Then, enemy mortar rounds again fell along 
     the ridgeline. Flares popped overhead, and the bugle calls 
     and whistles resumed, along with shrieks of ``Kill! Kill! 
     Kill dam `mericans!''
       Miyamura hurled more grenades and emptied his carbine. The 
     shadowy figures moving up the slope toward his position 
     dropped before his fire. Off to his right, the heavy machine 
     gun blasted away. There was silence from the .30-caliber 
     light-machine-gun position on his left. He clambered from his 
     hole and crawled to his left flank. The light weapon and its 
     crew were gone. Had they bugged out?
       No. A runner must have instructed them to withdraw. But why 
     hadn't the runner touched base with him? Crouching low, 
     Miyamura dashed toward the heavy-machine-gun position but 
     stumbled across a body and fell flat on his face. A flare 
     popped overhead, and he dropped flat beside the body. It was 
     one of H Company's runners. No wonder he hadn't gotten the 
     message to withdraw.
       Miyamura found two of the four GIs in the machine-gun 
     position hit by shrapnel, and he dressed their wounds. 
     Instructing them to cover him, he clamped his bayonet on 
     his carbine and left the emplacement, sliding down the 
     slope toward the enemy. Minutes later, there were 
     agonizing cries in the darkness from the direction he had 
       ``. . . Wielding his bayonet in close hand-to-hand combat, 
     killing approximately 10 of the enemy,'' General Osborne 
     continued. The Chinese soldiers had been cautiously moving up 
     the slope when Miyamura suddenly appeared in their midst. 
     Jabbing and slashing, he scattered one group and wheeled 
     around, breaking up another group the same way. Miyamura then 
     ran back up the slope and slid into the machine-gun position. 
     He ordered the gunners and the two wounded riflemen to fall 
     back; he would cover them. Suddenly he was alone and 
     frightened. He leaned against the machine gun and waited. It 
     didn't take long. Bugles and whistles sounded, and the 
     ``Kill! Kill!'' chant of the enemy grew louder and closer.
       ``. . . As another savage assault hit the line, he manned 
     his machine gun and delivered withering fire until his 
     ammunition was expended,'' the general went on. Miyamura 
     broke up that attack, and when he ran out of ammunition he 
     began hurling grenades in the enemy's direction. It was time 
     for him to withdraw, but first he had to destroy the heavy 
     machine gun. He placed a grenade, its pin pulled, against the 
     gun's open breach, then ran into a nearby trench.
       Loping down the trench, Miyamura turned a corner and 
     slammed into an enemy soldier. Both recoiled, but Miyamura 
     was faster; he shot the Chinese soldier wounding him. The 
     Chinese soldier then lobbed a grenade in Miyamura's 
     direction, but he kicked it back. It exploded, killing the 
     enemy soldier and wounding Miyamura in the leg. ``. . . He 
     killed more than 50 of the enemy before his ammunition was 
     depleted and he was severely wounded,'' the general continued 
       Miyamura recalled the nightmarish events leading up to his 
     capture. The eastern horizon was beginning to grow lighter, 
     and the enemy soldiers were now pouring off the ridge he had 
     evacuated. He spotted a friendly tank that had been staked 
     out to cover the withdrawal, now preparing to pull out. 
     Miyamura ran desperately toward it, only to stumble into 
     American barbed wire. Sobbing in pain, he heard the tank 
     rumble away.
       ``When last seen, he was fighting ferociously against an 
     overwhelming number of enemy soldiers,'' the general 
     continued. But that wasn't quite the way it happened, 
     Miyamura remembered. He managed to free himself from the wire 
     and dropped into a small shellhole, throbbing with pain from 
     the barbed-wire punctures and from the grenade-fragment wound 
     in his leg. Enemy troops swarmed down the back slope and 
     walked by the hole in which he lay, ignoring what they 
     thought was a dead GI. If he could last through the day 
     playing dead, he might be able to make it back to his own 
     lines when night fell. A lone enemy soldier stopped beside 
     him and leveled a U.S. Army 45-caliber pistol at his head. 
     ``Get up,'' he ordered in English. ``I know you're alive. We 
     don't harm prisoners.''
       Four days later, a 3rd Division task force slashed its way 
     back to the position Miyamura had evacuated. Miyamura was not 
     among the dead GIs who lay there with more than 50 enemy 
     dead, scattered on both slopes of his position.
       Why was Miyamura's Medal of Honor citation classified top-
     secret? General Osborne explained: ``If the Reds knew what he 
     had done to a good number of their soldiers just before he 
     was taken prisoner, they might have taken revenge on this 
     young man. He might not have come back.'' Sergeant Hiroshi H. 
     Miyamura, America's first secret hero, was formally presented 
     his Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a 
     White House ceremony on October 27, 1953.
       Miyamura has since visited Washington several times as an 
     invited guest at presidential inaugurations. A career as an 
     auto mechanic and service station owner made it possible for 
     him to send his three children to college. Miyamura is now 
     retired in his hometown of Gallup, N.M., and ``doing the many 
     things that I now have time for.'' An avid freshwater 
     fisherman, he spends much of his time trout fishing in the 
     many lakes in the Southwest.


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