VIDEO: Maui Ceremony for Medal of Honor Recipient Kaho’ohanohano
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfWEstF3g6A /] By Wendy Osher
A head stone unveiling ceremony was held on Maui today for late resident and Medal of Honor Recipient, US Army Private First Class Anthony Thomas Kah’ohanohano.
The event was held at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery, where military leaders, island representatives, friends and family joined in unveiling the new head stone that now bears the title of the coveted award issued to Maui’s newest Medal of Honor recipient.
The ceremony comes on the heels of a Medal of Honor ceremony held in May 2011, in which President Barack Obama presented the nation’s highest military honor posthumously to Kaho’ohanohano for his heroic actions during the Korean War.
“After six decades plus, it was well worth the wait,” said George Kaho’ohanohano, PFC Kaho’ohanohano’s nephew. “It is almost like a final closure for the family. We have the proper recognition, we have the proper head stone, and I believe we can put this to rest finally from our family’s point of view. It’s been six decades, and… kind of an uphill battle at times, but it’s all been worth it.”
“We like to believe that uncommon valor is a common virtue amongst those serving in uniform,” said Maj. Gen. William Beard, who spoke at today’s event.
“Even though each does his or her duty to country and friends, the reality is that selfless actions like the one performed by Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano are rare, even in the thickets of fights,” said Maj. Gen. Beard.
“It is that awe-inspiring infrequency that makes such valor rare, and worthy of our nation’s highest honor,” he said.
According to his citation, Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of a machine gun squad in the vicinity of Chupa-ri, Korea, on September 1, 1951.
Because of the enemy’s overwhelming numbers, friendly troops were forced to execute a limited withdrawal. As the men fell back, PFC Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to take up more defensible positions while he provided cover.
Despite being wounded in the shoulder, he gathered a supply of ammunition and returned to face the enemy alone, eventually engaging in hand-to-hand combat until he was mortally wounded.
The citation further states that Kaho’ohanohano’s heroic stand so inspired his comrades, that they launched a counter-attack that completely repulsed the enemy.
Kaho’ohanohano, who served with Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. It was upgraded decades later to the Medal of Honor.
Authorities say the honor bestowed upon Kaho’ohanohano brings to three the total number of Medal of Honor recipients from the island of Maui.
Quoting an unknown source, George Kaho’ohanohano said, “medals such as the Medal of Honor are not won; they are not given; they are earned.”
In addition to the address delivered by George Kaho’ohanohano, the ceremony also included a final salute from the Korean Veterans of Maui, and the playing of Taps by the Hawaii Army National Guard Funeral Honors Team.