Soldiers inducted into Gallery of Heroes
March 15, 2010
FORT DERUSSY, Hawaii - Elaine Kahoohanohano-Schultz and Jean Ho stood 10 feet apart from each other - in front of a pair of lei-adorned black-and-white photographs and in the shadows of dozens of flags - never having before met, but sharing so much in common.
They had come along with more than 200 other family members and guests to the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, recently, to honor the lives of two war heroes with the nation's highest awards for valor.
The honorees were their older brothers, Pfc. Anthony Kahoohanohano of Wailuku, Maui, and Pvt. Thomas Ono of Honolulu, both of whom were added to the museum's Gallery of Heroes during an induction and a memorial ceremony, here, March 5.
Kahoohanohano was officially recognized after his Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama, last October, while Ono was awarded with the Distinguished Service Cross.
Currently, 22 Medal of Honor recipients and 57 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross are memorialized in the Gallery of Heroes.
Standing next to the men's photos as flags danced in the wind, Kahoohanohano-Schultz and Ho found a few moments to reflect on the day's honorees. Specifically, they remembered their youth and how much of it was spent as the objects of their doting brothers' attention.
For Kahoohanohano-Schultz, it had been nearly 60 years since she last saw her oldest sibling, who was only 19 at the time when he was killed in battle.
Assigned to Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, Anthony Kahoohanohano had fought bravely during the Korean War and, in particular, at Chupa-ri, where he single-handedly slew 13 enemy Soldiers - two of them with an entrenching shovel - before succumbing to a numerically superior enemy force.
While appreciative of his heroic actions on that fateful day of Sept. 1, 1951, Kahoohanohano-Schultz chose instead to remember other characteristics that made her brother so beloved.
"Tony was very quiet. He seldom spoke, but he was kind and strong," she recalled, as the second youngest of eight siblings. "He used to buy me ice cream and all kinds of (sweets). He was always good to me. He spoiled me."
Her experience was not unlike Ho's, who remembered the caring, protective nature of her dutiful big brother.
"When I was young, my parents both had to work, so Thomas, more or less, had to baby-sit me," remembered Ho, the youngest of nine children. "His friends would always tell me that he couldn't go any place without dragging me along."
Assigned to Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion, 34th Infantry Division, Ono's service was distinguished by the courage he exhibited in Italy during World War II, and again in Korea, where he spent two years as a prisoner of war at Chang-Song.
Once, he and two other Soldiers crawled 200 yards through a wheat field and toward a machine gun nest, where he helped throw grenades that killed three Germans.
He passed away at age 66 in 1990 and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
The event's principal speaker, Brig. Gen. John Seward, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific, praised the valiant service rendered by the day's honorees, indicating that the Soldiers did not win their respective awards, but earned them while on fields of battle.
"Both went well beyond their call of duty," Seward said of Kahoohanohano and Ono. "I marvel at their bravery and their commitment to their units and to their country.
"These men lived (the Soldiers' Creed)," Seward continued. "They are a tribute to Hawaii, to the United States of America, and most assuredly, they are a tribute to their families."
When asked what their older brothers might have said if they were still around today, Ho and Kahoohanohano-Schultz agreed that the responses would have been, as the Hawaiians would say, "very haa haa," or humble.
"I think Thomas would say that he didn't deserve all these honors," Ho said.
Added Kahoohanohano-Schultz, "Tony would have said, 'Ain't no big thing. I was just doing my job, so why are you guys making such a big deal out of it''"