Miyamura with New Mexico First Lady Alice King in 1974, and visiting his tree and the New Mexico Area 44 years later.
During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor.
Today, the series looks at April 24, 1951, and the actions of Army Cpl. Hiroshi H. Miyamura during an attack by Chinese forces near the Imjin River in North Korea.
Hiroshi H. Miyamura’s Medal of Honor Citation reads:
“Cpl. Miyamura, a member of Company H, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy.
“On the night of 24 April, Company H was occupying a defensive position when the enemy fanatically attacked threatening to overrun the position.
“Cpl. Miyamura, a machine gun squad leader, 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. Returning to his position, he administered first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation.
“As another savage assault hit the line, he manned his machine gun and delivered withering fire until his ammunition was expended. He ordered the squad to withdraw while he stayed behind to render the gun inoperative. He then bayoneted his way through infiltrated enemy soldiers to a second gun emplacement and assisted in its operation.
“When the intensity of the attack necessitated the withdrawal of the company, Cpl. 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.
“He maintained his magnificent stand despite his painful wounds, continuing to repel the attack until his position was overrun. When last seen he was fighting ferociously against an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers.
“Cpl. Miyamura’s indomitable heroism and consummate devotion to duty reflect the utmost glory on himself and uphold the illustrious traditions on the military service.”
“Not realizing that Miyamura was still fighting, American forces began lobbing phosphorus bombs at his position,” according to Peter Collier, in Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. “As he started to make his way down the hill to the U.S. fallback position, he ran into a Chinese soldier and bayoneted him. The dying soldier dropped a grenade, and the explosion filled Miyamura’s legs with shrapnel. He stumbled toward what he thought were the American lines until he was too weak to go any farther. He crawled into a ditch, where he lost consciousness. When he came to the next morning, a Chinese officer standing over him was saying, ‘Don’t worry, we have a lenient policy.’ He was taken on a forced march to a Communist prison camp.
“In the late summer of 1953, emaciated from two years of captivity, Miyamura was finally repatriated. After being turned over to U.S. authorities at ‘Freedom Village in Panmunjom, he was informed that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor shortly after his capture, when he was still listed as missing in action; the award had been kept secret to keep his Chinese captors from killing him. President Harry Truman had signed his citation, but it was President Dwight Eisenhower who presented the medal to him on Oct. 27, 1953.”
Twenty-one years later, on Sept. 14, 1974, Miyamura was among those at Freedoms Foundation, which Ike helped found, for the dedication of the New Mexico Area of the Medal of Honor Grove, and for the planting of a tree in Miyamura’s honor. The event’s keynote speaker was Alice King, wife of New Mexico Gov. Bruce King. She said, in part:
“It is fitting and proper that we should forever memorialize these men by setting aside this small but beautiful area, where trees can grow, where leaves can fall, where birds can sing and nest, and where it can be forever quiet and peaceful. There is a certain sanctity about this place, where the spirits of these brave men and the memory of their deeds will unite with the spirits of their predecessors in the Continental Army, and will pervade the consciousness of all who visit here. The acts for which these men were honored were born in turmoil and agony, and it seems most fitting that they can be commemorated in the quiet and peacefulness of this place.
“As we dedicate this shrine today for the people of New Mexico and the people of the United States, I hope we will always remember that the few men whom we honor today are truly representative of all men through the ages who have willingly sacrificed themselves for the benefit of their fellow man. I would like to close these brief remarks by offering for each of our Medal of Honor recipients, both present and absent, and to all Medal of Honor recipients who are and will be honored in these groves, a fervent prayer that the sacrifices which these men so selflessly performed will never go unnoticed or unheeded, and that the true message of their selfless sacrifice will be forever enshrined in the hearts of all people forever.”
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