By Sgt. Corrina Strand, 45th Sustainment Brigade Public AffairsJuly 24, 2008
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau, C Company, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, a native son of Hawaii, is a true American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 17, 1951, at Korea's "Heartbreak Ridge." His posthumous Medal of Honor for actions on that day is a testament not only of his sacrifice, but also to the sacrifice of his family. More than 50 years after his death, Pililaau, whose name means "stick together" in Hawaiian, is still honored by his family, friends and the U.S. Navy, which commissioned the USNS Pililaau in 2001. Pililaau wanted to be a police officer in his hometown of Waianae. However, his dream was cut short while fighting the enemy. He held off several waves of communist forces using machine-gun fire and eventually hand-to-hand combat, until he was overcome and killed. Pililaau's bravery allowed his platoon to withdraw and take up a new fighting position. The ship, one of six in the Bob Hope Class, is used for transporting tracked and wheeled vehicles, aircraft and containerized supplies to U.S. forces overseas. The ships are also used to preposition military equipment in strategic locations at sea for rapid delivery. The Pililaau pulled into Pearl Harbor the morning of July 12 to load vehicles and containers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (3IBCT) and the 45th Sustainment Brigade. From there, the containers will be transported to California for use in this month's Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) exercise and next month's National Training Center (NTC) rotation. After the upload was complete, July 14, 10 members of the Pililaau family got a tour of the ship. The ship's captain, Richard Malloy, as well as Col. Clay Hatcher, commander, 45th Sustainment Brigade, and Lt. Col. Joel Vowell, deputy commander, 3IBCT, welcomed them aboard. "It's an honor to meet with the Pililaau family because of the honor and sacrifice that his family made," said Malloy. "When a ship is named for someone, their memory lives on. People all over the world ask about Herbert and his sacrifice." "This ship is not just named after Herbert, but after the whole family," continued Malloy. Herb Pililaau, Herbert's nephew and namesake, remembered his uncle as a music lover who played the ukulele. "We were shocked when he became a war hero," said Pililaau. After a tour of the ship and lunch, Malloy presented each family member with a photo taken of the ship as it rounded Diamond Head at dawn, July 12. The Pililaaus then presented the captain with a framed family portrait and a maile lei.