By Andi Babineau, CNN
Former US Army corporal and Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura has died, according to a news release from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
He was 97 years old.
Miyamura was born on October 6, 1925, in Gallup, New Mexico. He joined the Army in January 1945 as part of a mostly-Japanese American infantry regiment, according to the statement. “He was discharged from the Army shortly after Japan surrendered but later enlisted in the US Army Reserve” and returned to active duty after the Korean War began.
Miyamura earned his Medal of Honor during a battle on April 24, 1951, the release says.
“Then-Cpl. Miyamura was a machine-gun squad leader with Company H occupying a defensive position when the enemy threatened to overrun the position. Aware of the imminent danger to his men, he engaged in close hand-to-hand combat, killing approximately 10 of the enemy before returning to administer first aid to the wounded and directed their evacuation.”
As another assault was launched, Miyamura maintained his position and ordered the rest of the squad to withdraw. He depleted his ammunition and then “bayoneted his way through infiltrated enemy soldiers” to a second gun position and covered his men as they continued their retreat. Miyamura killed more than 50 enemy soldiers before his ammunition was again depleted and he was severely wounded himself. Miyamura “was still seen continuing to fight an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers before being captured by the enemy,” the release said.
He was held as a prisoner of war for more than two years — until August 23, 1953.
It was decided he would be awarded a Medal of Honor before he was released, but the news was kept quiet until after he was returned to the US to ensure his safety.
He received the award from President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House on October 27, 1953.
Miyamura was the second-to-last living Korean War Medal of Honor recipient, the statement says. There are 64 recipients alive today.
Funeral arrangements for Miyamura are pending.
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CNN’s Amir Vera contributed to this report.