Hawaii's last living Medal of Honor hero is hailed by Congress
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The U.S. House of Representatives recognized all living Medal of Honor recipients Wednesday, reciting the acts of bravery that went far above and beyond the call of duty.
Hawaii is down to just one still living here: retired Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg Jr. of Kailua.
Kellogg, a 69-year-old Vietnam vet, saved fellow Marines by smothering a grenade in a rice paddy.
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois, and Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, co-hosted the House session Wednesday to recognize all living Medal of Honor recipients.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, there are 80 living recipients.
"Since the first Medal of Honor was given on March 25, 1853, only 3,461 individuals have earned it," Davis said.
Medal of Honor recipients get together each year for a convention, and a gathering in Gettysburg, Pa., today through Saturday is expected to draw more than 45 with the blue ribbon and gold medal. Last year's meeting was in Honolulu.
Gabbard, herself a combat veteran for her service in Iraq with the Hawaii National Guard, recognized Kellogg on the House floor for his actions in 1970 in Vietnam.
"Under the leadership of Sgt. Kellogg, a small unit from Company G was evacuating a fallen comrade when the unit came under enemy fire from the surrounding jungle. What he did is the stuff of legends," Gabbard said.
"After an enemy soldier hurled a hand grenade at the Marines, Sgt. Kellogg quickly forced the grenade into the mud, threw himself over the grenade and absorbed the full effects of its detonation with his body, saving his unit," she said. "Although suffering multiple injuries to his chest and his right shoulder, Sgt. Kellogg continued to direct his men until all reached safety."
Gabbard said in a release that she was "proud and honored" to recognize the actions and sacrifices of the fellow Kailua resident.
"He is a part of an elite group, which includes the likes of our very own Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who selflessly gave everything in the service of our nation," Gabbard said. "These incredible heroes have been awarded our nation's highest military decoration for valor in combat. Their humble examples of what it means to be a true servant leader continue to serve as an inspiration to us all."
Hawaii has had more than its share of recipients.
Twenty-two Asian-American soldiers were recognized for their World War II heroism when their service awards were upgraded to Medals of Honor in 2000.
Most were with the 100th Infantry Battalion or 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Ten of those 22 mostly Japanese-American soldiers survived the war, three died before the Medals of Honor were awarded and seven living recipients were honored in Washington, D.C., including five living in Hawaii.
Among them was Inouye, who gave his right arm charging machine-gun nests in Italy, and who died Dec. 17 at 88.
Other Medal of Honor recipients who lived in Hawaii at that time included Barney Hajiro, Shizuya Hayashi, Yeiki Kobashigawa and Yukio Okutsu, the Pentagon said.