Army museum to laud valor of 2 Hawaii soldiers
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The stories of bravery among the Nisei soldiers of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II are numerous, but each bears repeating.
When they are told, they take one's breath away for the sheer valor shown.
Such was the case of Pvt. Thomas Y. Ono, a Honolulu man who found himself in a daylight attack on a series of German machine gun nests near La Torretto, Italy, on June 2, 1944.
In a period of about three hours, while facing heavy enemy fire, Ono and two other soldiers with Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion, neutralized five machine guns and killed or captured 17 German soldiers.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
On Friday, Ono, who died in 1990, will be recognized at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawai'i at Fort DeRussy in a 1 p.m. Gallery of Heroes ceremony.
Another Hawai'i native son, Army Pfc. Anthony Kaho'ohanohano, gave his life in the vicinity of Chup'ari, Korea, on Sept. 1, 1951, fighting with a machine gun, grenades and, finally, a shovel as fellow soldiers fell back to a more defensible position.
Kaho'ohanohano also will be recognized at the ceremony, which will be held outside the museum. The recognition is open to the public.
Both men already are represented in the Gallery of Heroes, but the Army museum will recognize the upgrade of Kaho'ohanohano's Distinguished Service Cross to the nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor was approved with President Obama's signing of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act in October.
A formal induction was never held for Ono; Friday's ceremony will recognize his courage.
According to his Distinguished Service Cross citation, Ono's squad was on point for the leading platoon. Ono and two other soldiers crawled 200 yards through a wheat field toward a machine gun nest and threw grenades, killing three Germans.
Two other machine guns opened up on the Americans. Under intense fire, Ono and the others killed two Germans, wounded one and captured four.
Later the same day, Ono and the other soldiers fired on and charged another machine gun nest with fixed bayonets. Ono later served in the Korean War and was a prisoner of war for two years.
The Farrington High School graduate who was a quiet man and never talked about the war went on to become a postal carrier. He would be honored by the recognition, said his daughter, Jane Pennington.
"I think he joined (the Army) to prove he was American, and I will fight for America, this is my home," Pennington said.