b. 22/07/1930 Maui, Hawaii. d. 01/09/1951 Chupa-ri, Korea.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/09/1951 Chupa-ri, Korea.
Kaho’ohanohano was born on Maui, Hawaii, on July 22, 1930. He grew to be a tall kid and was known by several of his siblings to be a quiet guardian to them. He loved swimming, going to the ocean and playing basketball.
Service was important to the family. Kaho’ohanohano’s father had served in the military and was a dedicated police officer. His five brothers joined the military when they were old enough, and Kaho’ohanohano did the same. He enlisted in the Hawaii National Guard after high school.
On Feb. 5, 1951, several months after the Korean War began, he joined the regular Army. Kaho’ohanohano was assigned to Company H of the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division based in Korea.
In August 1951, his unit was deployed to the front lines of the war. By the end of that month, an operation known as the Battle of Chup’a-ri was launched. Over the next several days, Kaho’ohanohano’s unit fought for strategic hills in action that would shape the course of the war.
On September 1, 1951, Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of a machine gun squad that was supporting his company’s defensive position when a large enemy force attacked. The Americans were overwhelmed, so they started to retreat. Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to fall back, too, and find more defensible positions so they could provide cover for the retreating men.
Kaho’ohanohano had been hit in the shoulder during the attack, but he chose to stay behind as his men moved to safety. He gathered up as much ammunition and as many grenades as he could find, then went back to his original position to face the enemy alone.
The North Koreans were determined to overrun his position, but he wasn’t about to give it up easily. Kaho’ohanohano blasted the onrushing enemy with machine gun fire and grenades. When he ran out of both, he grabbed the only weapon he had left — a shovel — and fought his aggressors one on one until there were too many for him to handle. The position was overrun, and Kaho’ohanohano was killed.
When his unit heard about his heroic stand, they were inspired. The company launched a counterattack that was eventually able to repel the enemy soldiers.
When Kaho’ohanohano’s fellow soldiers found his body, they were amazed by what they found with it: 11 enemy soldiers lay dead in front of his position, while two others that the 21-year-old had fought in hand-to-hand combat lay dead beside him. Kaho’ohanohano’s machine gun had fired so many times that its barrel was bent.
For his selfless actions, Kaho’ohanohano was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military honor. But his family and many in his community thought he deserved more. So, after decades of petitioning for a higher honor from World War II veterans and fellow Hawaiians, U.S. Sens. Danny Akaka and Dan Inouye, it was decided the award would be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
On May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Kaho’ohanohano’s sister, Elaine, and brother, Eugene, at a White House ceremony. Nearly 30 more members of Kaho’ohanohano’s family attended, as did several Korean War veterans.
“Kaho’ohanohano will always be remembered for the lone assault that saved his comrades, and then inspired their counterattack,” Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said at a ceremony at the Pentagon the day after the White House presentation. “His last words — reportedly, ‘I’ve got your back,’ — are a creed our soldiers carry with them today whenever they go into harm’s way.”
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano, Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Chupa-ri, Korea, on 1 September 1951. On that date, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano was in charge of a machine-gun squad supporting the defensive positioning of Company F when a numerically superior enemy force launched a fierce attack. Because of the enemy’s overwhelming numbers, friendly troops were forced to execute a limited withdrawal. As the men fell back, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to take up more defensible positions and provide covering fire for the withdrawing friendly force. Although having been wounded in the shoulder during the initial enemy assault, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano gathered a supply of grenades and ammunition and returned to his original position to face the enemy alone. As the hostile troops concentrated their strength against his emplacement in an effort to overrun it, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano fought fiercely and courageously, delivering deadly accurate fire into the ranks of the onrushing enemy. When his ammunition was depleted, he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s heroic stand so inspired his comrades that they launched a counterattack that completely repulsed the enemy. Upon reaching Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s emplacement, friendly troops discovered 11 enemy soldiers lying dead in front of the emplacement and two inside it, killed in hand-to-hand combat. Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano’s extraordinary heroism and selfless devotion to duty are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 7th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: MAUI VETERANS CEMETERY, MAUI, HAWAII.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.