Gallup’s Hiroshi Miyamura, a recipient of the nation’s highest military award, will be one of the grand marshals of the 2019 Veterans Day Parade on Monday in New York City.
Miyamura was born to Japanese-American parents in Gallup and briefly served with the U.S. Army’s famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team late in World War II. But he became renowned throughout the state while fighting in Korea in the 1950s, when he held off an attacking unit of Chinese troops on April 25, 1951, near Taejon-ni, Korea. He was a corporal in the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.
“I was a machine-gun operator,” Miyamura said in a 2011 interview with The New Mexican. “During that night I could see that our position was going to be overrun by the enemy. Instead of getting my men shot or killed, I told them to evacuate the area, and I covered the withdrawal.”
His men found safety as Miyamura held off the advancing Chinese soldiers.
“While they were leaving, I just fired and threw all the grenades that I could,” he said. “After they left, our own mortars started dropping phosphorous bombs on our position. That woke me up to the thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ ”
Miyamura killed 10 Chinese soldiers with his bayonet as he moved down the hill to another machine gun. He killed more than 50 enemy combatants during the battle, according to his Army citation.
When his ammunition ran out, Miyamura tried to signal a friendly tank, but he was tangled in barbed wire and injured. He was soon captured and sent to a North Korean POW camp, where he was a prisoner for two years.
“I didn’t want to think about what was happening,” he said. “I wanted to concentrate on raising a family once I got home. I think that’s what kept me going.”
On Aug. 23, 1953, he was released to Freedom Village near Panmunjom. He received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Known as “Hershey” in Gallup, Miyamura still lives in the Western New Mexico city.
“Through his life story and service to America, Hershey Miyamura truly embodies the spirit and values that define our great nation,” said United War Veterans Council Executive Director Mark Ott, whose organization produces the parade in New York City.
Monday’s Veterans Day parade marks the 100th observance of the holiday once known as Armistice Day. Miyamura is one of five grand marshals, each of whom will represent an era of service from World War II to the present.
Another living Medal of Honor recipient is Santa Fe’s Leroy Petry, who was honored for his bravery by President Barack Obama in 2011. Petry, a veteran U.S. Army ranger, lobbed an enemy grenade away from his comrades in 2008 while fighting in Afghanistan. The device exploded, wounding him with shrapnel. He also lost his right hand.