Today, I spoke on the Senate Floor to recognize the life of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and Gallup’s own Staff Sergeant Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, who passed away in November. Hershey truly embodied the best of what our nation stands for.
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich speaks on the Senate Floor to recognize the life of Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, December 15, 2022.
A second generation Japanese American, Hershey Miyamura first volunteered for the U.S. Army near the end of World War II. He did so at a time when many of his fellow Japanese Americans, and that includes his future wife, were detained in American internment camps. He served in the storied 442nd Infantry Regiment, which was composed of soldiers with Japanese ancestry and became one of the most decorated units in U.S. military history.
Following the start of the Korean War in 1950, the Army recalled Hershey, who had remained in the Reserves, back into active duty. During an overnight firefight from April 24–25, 1951, then-Corporal Miyamura covered the withdrawal of his entire company from advancing enemy forces as a machine gun squad leader. His selfless actions that night allowed all 16 of his men to withdraw safely before he was severely wounded and captured as a prisoner of war. Nearly two and a half years later, following his release and return to the United States, President Eisenhower presented him with the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House.
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich meets with Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura before they attend the grand opening of the VA’s Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Gallup, June 5, 2015.
Hershey Miyamura’s lifelong dedication to his country never ceased. It continued long after his decorated military service ended. After he received his honorable discharge from the Army, Hershey opened up a service station along Route 66 in his hometown of Gallup, New Mexico. He remained active in his community until his dying days, advocating for his fellow veterans and inspiring young people with lectures on patriotism, on faith, and on service.
It was one of the greatest honors of my own public service career to work with Hershey to open up the VA’s Gallup Community-Based Outpatient Clinic and to join him for a tour of the site that is now the Gallup State Veterans Cemetery.
PHOTO: (From Left) U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura, and then-U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the VA's Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Gallup, June 5, 2015.
In recent years, Hershey touched the lives of countless young people in Gallup during his regular visits with students at the local high school that is named in his honor. The Miyamura High School Patriots wear the colors purple and silver in honor of Hershey’s Purple Heart. And a bronze statue of Hershey in his Army uniform and wearing his Medal of Honor stands an the main entrance of Hiroshi Miyamura High School.
I hope that none of us will ever forget the profound example of humility and patriotism that Hershey left to each of us as his enduring legacy.
United States Senator