MoSho’s Badass of the Week-New Mexico’s Hiroshi Miyamura
Today for our Badass of the week, we're highlighting a hero from the nearby Land of Enchantment New Mexico whose bravery earned him the prestigious Medal of Honor.
We're taking a look at Ben Thompson's book "Badass" and finding some of our favorite badasses in history. A few months ago, we discovered an amazing website Badass of the Week. The creator, Ben Thompson, founded the site so others could learn about various badass men and women in history. The site has been around since 2004 and Thompson has written several books on the subject of Badasses through history, as well as the Guts and Glory series of books. Both series look at various types of heroes and villains throughout history. While reading these books, we've found interesting facts, stories and people that we believe should be highlighted so you know more about them.
Hiroshi Miyamura was born in Gallup, New Mexico the son of Japanese immigrant parents. He was nicknamed Hershey by teachers who had trouble pronouncing his name. As a child during World War 2, many Japanese Americans were being relocated to internment camps due to fears that they could be traitors to the United States. The city council and mayor of Gallup wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying that they had relatively few Japanese in their city and that they were all good Americans citizens who they trusted. Because of this, the Japanese-American residents of Gallup were allowed to stay in New Mexico because of this.
Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura was a proud American and attempted to sign up for the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor but Japanese Americans were classified as “enemy aliens.” According to an interview with Miyamura in the Albuquerque Journal, Miyamura said there weren't many Japanese in the United States at the time and the government wasn't sure if they would be loyal to America or the Japanese. It wasn't until the all-volunteer "Nisei" battalion, made up of second-generation Japanese-Americans, made history and became one of the most highly decorated military units. After their achievements, Japanese-Americans were reclassified and allowed to enlist and be drafted. Hershey was in the reserves when the Korean War broke out and he was shipped off to the front.
Hershey’s unit was sent to a position on the border between China and Korea, where their forces were outnumbered and poorly equipped. On the night of April 24th, 1951, Miyamura was a corporal in charge of a 15 man squad with two machine guns and five riflemen. His orders were to hold his position by the Imjin River as long as possible. The Chinese soldier made noise by banging pots and pans, blowing bugles, setting off flares and began to attack. The enemy began overwhelming the unit's position when Miyamura jumped from his shelter and attacked the enemy in hand to hand combat with his bayonet. He was able to kill ten soldiers before heading back to his machine gun and fired on the enemy until the gun jammed. At one point the gun jammed and he proceeded to make his way to the second gun and continuing firing upon the enemy. Hiroshi Miyamura wanted to protect his soldiers and help them escape so he ordered them to retreat when the situation began getting worse. When the machine gun ran out of ammunition, he disabled the gun so the enemy wouldn't be able to use it for themselves. While his soldiers escaped, Miyamura was able to kill 50 soldiers and allow his men to retreat safely. According to his Medal of Honor citation, this was the last time his soldiers say Hiroshi Miyamura alive.
But Hershey Miyamura was alive, and was attempting to reach U.S. fallback position when he saw a Chinese soldier and bayoneted him. The enemy soldier dropped a grenade he had as his last dying action. The grenade wounded Hershey and he passed out on the battlefield. When he came to later, he was now a prisoner of the enemy. He was taken to other American Prisoners of War (POWs) where he saw his firend and fellow soldier Joe Annello. Annello was badly injured and unable to walk, which would have been a death sentence. Prisoners who weren't able to keep up were shot and left by the side of the road. According to Annello, Miyamura carried him:
"I was wounded, very severely wounded, and Hershey carried me for about 10 miles. He’s going to say he didn’t and I don’t want to diminish his efforts, but I only weighed 147 pounds. No, but seriously he did and the Chinese got irritated at us for slowing them down. They ordered Hershey to put me on the side of the road and at first he refused. The Chinese were going to shoot him and I told him, 'No Hershey, put me on the side of the road.' That’s the last time I saw Hershey."
Miyamura continued on to the POW camp and was held there for 28 months, until late in the summer of 1953. He was released in an exchange of POWs between forces and was told that he would be receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics on the night of April 24th. That would be enough for an absolutely amazing Badass but Hershey's story doesn't end there. After the war, he returned home to Gallup and began a peaceful life with his family where he owned a gas station and convenience store. Joe Annello found out that Hershey was still alive when he saw his picture in a magazine and drove out to New Mexico to see his friend. His appearance shocked Miyamura but he was glad to see that his friend was able to survive. Since then, the two men have become great friends and travel around making speeches about their ordeal. They also enjoy skydiving together on Miyamura's birthday.