New Mexico war hero Miyamura spotlighted in Netflix series
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Gallup’s most famous - and famously humble - military hero is now the subject of an episode in a new Netflix documentary series.
The story of Gallup native Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura and his extraordinary valor in combat during the Korean War are explored in the fourth episode of “Medal of Honor,” an eight-part series that tells the stories of eight recipients of the nation’s highest military honor. The series became available on the streaming service in early November.
“Medal of Honor” is a collaborative project between Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”) and Oscar-winning documentarian James Moll (“The Last Days”). The series features a mix of archival photographs and film, dramatic reenactments, commentary from historians and military leaders, along with interviews with veterans, family members and living Medal of Honor recipients.
“I never ever thought I would receive the Medal of Honor for doing my duty, which I thought that’s all I was doing, was my duty,” Miyamura says in the documentary.
Insight into character
For community members who think they know Miyamura’s story, the Netflix episode will likely provide new information about his heroism in combat and his perseverance during 27 months in a Chinese prisoner of war camp. The documentary provides insight into Miyamura’s character through interviews with Miyamura, his sisters Michiko Yoshida and Shigeko Sasaki, his sons Pat and Mike Miyamura, his daughter Kelly Hildahl, his granddaughter Marisa Regan, and his close friend and war comrade Joe Annello.
The son of Japanese immigrants, Miyamura grew up in Gallup. After the United States entered World War II, Miyamura attempted to join the military, but he was deemed not eligible to serve and given a Four-C “alien” status because of his Japanese ancestry. Later that exclusionary policy changed, and toward the end of the war, Miyamura was allowed to join the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry.
With the start of the Korean War, Miyamura, an Army reservist, was called up for active duty. On the evening of April 24, 1951, Miyamura, a machine gun squad leader, along with fellow squad leader Annello and their men, came under attack by Chinese forces.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Miyamura, “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.”
Miyamura then returned to his position and administered first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation. With another assault by the Chinese, Miyamura manned his machine gun until the ammunition was expended. He ordered the squad to withdraw while he stayed behind to render the gun inoperative. He then bayoneted his way to a second gun emplacement and assisted in its operation.
As the attack intensified, 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.
“Even at the cost of his own life, he made a decision to cover his own troops,” Annello says in the documentary. “That, to me, distinguishes between an ordinary man and an extraordinary man.”
Annello, who died earlier this month, credited Miyamura for saving his life during the war. Although both men were wounded and taken prisoner by the Chinese, Annello was rescued while Miyamura was held captive for 27 months.
After his release, Miyamura returned to Gallup, where he was welcomed by thousands of people who greeted his train and held a parade in his honor. In October 1953, an admittedly nervous Miyamura received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House.
“I’ve always felt humble among people when I wear the medal,” Miyamura told the filmmakers. “I know a lot of us wear this medal for those that never received any recognition.”
The 52-minute “Medal of Honor” episode features video footage of Miyamura addressing graduates of Hiroshi Miyamura High School, the Gallup school named in his honor. He spoke about perseverance, a common theme for Miyamura.
“I learned so much during that 27 months that has changed my outlook toward life,” Miyamura said. “And that’s why every opportunity I have, I like to tell people about not giving up.”
Other Medal of Honor recipients featured in the “Medal of Honor” series include Sylvester Antolak, World War II; Clint Romesha, Afghanistan; Edward Carter, World War II; Vito Bertoldo, World War II; Joseph Vittori, Korean War; Richard L. Etchberger, Vietnam; and Ty M. Carter, Afghanistan.
Information from: Gallup Independent, http://www.gallupindependent.com