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MOH Awarded Today to 2 Korean War Heroes

Profiles of Heroism: PFC Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and PFC Henry Svehla

– May 2, 2011

Posted in: Medal of Honor: Souls of Valor

By SGT John Mann

President Barack Obama will posthumously award the Medal of Honor today to Army Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and Army Private First Class Henry Svehla. Both men gave their lives during the Korean War to save their fellow brothers in the field.

PFC Anthony Kaho’ohanohano

PFC Kaho’ohanohano died on September 1, 1951 while serving in Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, and 7th Infantry Division where he was in charge of a machine gun squad. According to a White House press release, PFC Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to take up a more defensible position and provide covering fire for the withdrawing friendly force. Kaho’ohanohano is credited with gathering a supply of grenades and ammunition and facing the enemy alone. Even after his ammunition ran out, he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until his life was taken. “His heroic stand so inspired his comrades that they launched a counterattack that completely repulsed the enemy,” says the release. “When they found him later, he had killed nine of the enemy with a machine gun and killed two within the replacement by beating them, and they finally killed him within the replacement… he had run out of ammunition,” says Hawaiian Senator Daniel Akaka.

Senator Akaka first heard about Kaho’ohanohano’s heroic actions ten years ago when George Kaho’ohanohano, his nephew, started fighting for his uncle to receive the Medal of Honor. “Since 2001, I pursued it with the Army Secretary Pete Geren. There is a law and code that says that any of these recommendations should be made within three years of the conflict and it was not until really 50 years later that it was pursued,” says Akaka.

Akaka went on to say, “The determination of the family really moved me, because today it is 60 years after he was killed.” Akaka says Kaho’ohanohano came from a great military family and six of his brothers also served the United States. “They loved our country and joined the military to help our country. This is a family very determined,” says Akaka. “Anthony was a determined type of person, he went to school on Maui, and was a star football player, star basketball player and was a very determined person and he was one that protected his younger brothers and fought for them. So I can see what he did in Korea was the way he felt and the way he lived to protect others and that is exactly what he did when he gave his life in Korea. That was his manner and that was his type, he was a fighter,” Akaka concluded.

PFC Henry Svehla

Private First Class Henry Svehla will also be awarded today with the military’s highest honor. He died serving his country in Korea on June 12, 1952. Svehla was a rifleman with Company F, 32d Infantry Regiment, and 7th Infantry Division. According to a White House press release, “Coming under heavy fire and with his platoon’s attack beginning to falter, Private First Class Svehla leapt to his feet and charged the enemy positions, firing his weapon and throwing grenades as he advanced. Disregarding his own safety, he destroyed enemy positions and inflicted heavy casualties. 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. During this action, Private First Class Svehla was mortally wounded.”

“I remember the day the telegram came, and there was a knock on the door. It was handed to her (Henry’s mother) and the person said I am sorry and after that the house was full with friends, cousins. I remember my mother cried,” says Sylvia Svehla, PFC Svehla’s sister. Dorothy Matthew’s, PFC Svehla’s other sister remembers that day just like it were yesterday, “My mother she just fell apart. It took her a long time to get over it, I don’t think she ever did, it was her youngest son. She died at only 59 years old.”

Anthony Svehla is PFC Svehla’s nephew. He’s been working since 2001 to honor his uncle with the nation’s highest military honor. “I started doing research on the Internet and I had called Congressman Pascrell’s office. The first letter I sent was in May 2001. Then we had to get records and we had to get stuff from the Library of Congress, every time we sent something, they would send something back and said we need more,” says Anthony.

Finally in February 2011, Anthony says he received a call from the Pentagon and the person on the other end said his uncle would finally receive the Medal of Honor. “It blew my mind, I had chills through my body, it was an unbelievable feeling, I just couldn’t believe that this finally happened, toward the end, 10 years, I figured it would never happen. Doing this for my Uncle John, my Uncle Big Boy I wanted him to be there because of course it has to be a next of kin, brother sister to receive the medal, two years ago he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.” Sadly, Anthony’s Uncle John passed away last summer. Anthony says his uncle would have loved to be at the White House to receive the medal in honor of Henry.

Anthony went on to say it was worth the fight and the wait, “It was hard, but I didn’t give up, I never really gave up. We were all happy you know, it’s our name, and now it’s something special to have your name mentioned with a hero.”

Comic book illustrating PFC Svehla's heroism

In 1953, a comic book was even written to illustrate the heroic actions PFC Svehla displayed on the day he was killed. The book says, “PFC Henry Svehla of North New Jersey died a hero when he threw himself on an exploding grenade to save the lives of his buddies.”

“We would be equally as proud and honored to have had him for our brother if he never won the Medal of Honor, if he never won a purple heart or Distinguished Service Cross. If all he did was serve and came back home, we would feel the same way about him. We don’t love or care more because of this, we always cared, and even though it’s such a big honor, it doesn’t change how we always felt. We were always proud of him we always loved him, as he loved us,” Sylvia concluded.

Information Directly from the White House about the Medal Of Honor:

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

View the original article at Veterans Today

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