ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Monday, New Mexicans gathered to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving the United States. A local medal of honor recipient was a guest speaker at one of Albuquerque’s Memorial Day events.
This Memorial Day, generations gathered to pay tribute to fallen comrades at New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park. Among those honored was local hero and medal of honor recipient, U.S. Sergeant Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.
“If you have any children at all, be sure and tell them of your experiences,” Miyamura told the crowd.
The Korean and World War II vet shared his own words of wisdom.
“We living should be thankful that we are still here to help honor our comrades,” Miyamura said.
After dozens of handshakes and photos, the retired Army sergeant and Gallup native, shared his story with KRQE News 13.
“I was a squad leader, I had approximately 16 men under my command, and I had to make a decision,” recalled Miyamura.
As a machine gun squad leader in 1951, his post came under attack. He protected his men, wielding his bayonet in close hand-to-hand combat, and helped the wounded.
But Miyamura didn’t make it out that day. He ran into barbed wire as he tried to get the attention of a friendly tank.
Injured himself, Miyamura was captured and kept as a prisoner of war for more than two years.
“My wife did not know I was alive for over a year because the enemies never released any names of the prisoners they had under their command,” said Miyamura.
He said his will to survive got him through the experience. He and his wife will celebrate 66 years of marriage in June.
Miyamura has been called America’s “top secret” hero. His medal of honor was initially kept a secret until President Dwight Eisenhower presented him the medal in 1953.
“They kept it a secret because they were afraid of retaliation against me, if they should know what I did,” Miyamura told News 13.
His courageous story is no longer a secret. Now, the 88-year-old war hero said he honors today’s generation of soldiers, and has a message: “I think the younger generations should learn more about the history of America, and about the young men and women that sacrificed their lives and contributed so much to making this country what it is today,” he said. “And they should know that and never forget it.”
After the military, Miyamura went into the service station business and worked as an auto mechanic in Gallup, New Mexico, which he still calls home.
Miyamura has influenced some of his family members. He told News 13 he’s proud of his granddaughter who graduated from the Air Force Academy, and now serves as a Captain in Louisiana.