No Statute of Limitations for Valor
Two questions that come up when I write on the subject of our nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, are why it sometimes takes so long for the Medal to be awarded and whether an award can be “upgraded” to the Medal of Honor. (I use that term reluctantly because I don’t want to make awards and decorations for our brave troops sound like a product that can be improved—“upgraded.”)
I am well aware of how long it can sometimes take for a hero to receive the Medal of Honor. For example, two Medals of Honor were presented in 1917 for Civil War acts of heroism. We periodically see Medals of Honor awarded for acts of heroism during the two World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. However, I was not familiar with instances of “upgrading” high awards for valor to the Medal of Honor.
The defense authorization bill signed yesterday by President Obama contains a provision to “upgrade” one of our Korean War heroes’ Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor. The president has three years to present the Medal posthumously to the recipient’s family.
The prospective recipient is Pfc. Anthony Kahoohanohano.
According to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, “This award is well deserved. Anthony T. Kahoohanohano gave his life to save his fellow soldiers. Critically injured and running out of ammo, he continued fighting as his unit moved to safety, sacrificing himself to save his comrades. This act of heroism must not be forgotten. Pfc. Kahoohanohano’s bravery, gallantry and self-sacrifice leave a legacy that his family, Hawaii and the entire nation can be proud of.”
As reported by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Anthony Kahoohanohano, a 19-yearl-old soldier from Maui, was killed at Chupa-ri on the Korean peninsula on a September 1, 1951, after killing 13 enemy soldiers — two with a shovel — as he covered the withdrawal of his squad.
Please click here to read more about Kahoohanohano’s background and heroism.
In the article, one also learns that this is not the first time that a high award for valor is “upgraded.”
Akaka, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, is credited for frequently re-examining examples of wartime valor.
According to the Star-Bulletin:
In 1996 [Akaka] asked the Pentagon to review the records of 22 Asian-Americans who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II.
Four years later, President Bill Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony to those soldiers, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, or their surviving relatives.
Twenty of the honorees are members of the famed 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
There is still hope for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta.