Obama to award two Korean War soldiers with Medal of Honor
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two soldiers who gave their lives fighting in the Korean War will be posthumously given the nation’s highest military honor by President Barack Obama during a ceremony next month, the White House said Wednesday evening.
Pfc. Anthony Kaho’ohanohano and Pfc. Henry Svehla will be recognized with the Medal of Honor for braving certain death and painful wounds to charge and repel overwhelming enemy forces during the war.
Family members of both soldiers will attend the May 2 ceremony at the White House to commemorate their “selfless service and sacrifice,” according to a presidential news release.In September 1951, Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of a machine gun squad near Chopra-Ri, Korea, while assigned to the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division, according to the Army.“He was 6’1” and he was all muscle and he could hit like a horse kicks. I’ll testify to that,” his younger brother David Kaho’ohanohano, 77, of Hawaii told Stars and Stripes on Thursday.The unit was attacked in Chopra-Ri by a much larger enemy force and Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to move to a more defensible position and provided cover fire, the Army said in a news release. Despite a painful shoulder wound, he gathered grenades and ammunition and returned alone to the squad’s original position to take a stand as the enemy came rushing in.He pumped accurate and deadly fire into the enemy ranks as they came. When his ammunition ran out, Kaho’ohanohano grabbed a shovel and waged hand-to-hand combat until he was killed, according to the Army account and a resolution passed by the Maui, Hawaii, local government recognizing the achievement. His stand convinced his unit to wage a counter attack that completely repulsed the enemy forces, the White House said.“His last words were ‘I’ve got your back and he went out and did his job,” his brother said. “Nowadays, you don’t have too many heroes, and he was one of the big heroes in our family.”Kaho’ohanohano’s sister, Elaine Kaho’ohanohano, and brother, Eugene Kaho’ohanohano, will accompany Obama at the ceremony and other members of the family will attend. David Kaho’ohanohano said he will not be able to attend due to his health.Svehla was serving as a rifleman with the 7th Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea on June 12, 1952, when his platoon waged an attack on enemy forces. The onslaught began to falter and the unit came under heavy fire, according to the White House.Disregarding his own safety, Svehla jumped to his feet and charged enemy positions, firing his weapon and throwing grenades as he advanced. A mortar round exploded nearby and peppered his face with fragments but he refused medical treatment and continued his assault.“When an enemy grenade landed among a group of his comrades, without hesitation and undoubtedly aware of the extreme danger, he threw himself on the grenade,” the White House said.Svehla’s sisters Dorothy Mathews and Sylvia Svehla will join the president at the White House for the Medal of Honor firstname.lastname@example.org