FORT HOOD, Texas — President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro on July 5, 2022, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. Kaneshiro, now the 1st Cavalry Division’s 44th Medal of Honor recipient, was assigned to C. Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment during the Vietnam War.
Kaneshiro’s medal was presented to his son John Kaneshiro, who followed his dad’s footsteps joining the Army as a non-commissioned officer and reaching the rank of Master Sgt. before retiring.
John, who was only four months old when his father deployed to Vietnam, said it was the shared experience of wearing the uniform of the United States that helped bring him closer to his father, who he did not get an opportunity to know while growing up.
1st Cavalry Division’s command team — Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV, commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Shade Munday, division command sergeant major — attended the ceremony to support Kaneshiro’s family and honor his service and sacrifice.
“It’s an honor to be here in support of the Kaneshiro family and to represent the 19,000 Troopers from the 1st Cavalry Division during this historic moment,” said Munday. “His heroic actions will inspire the division’s young troopers, past and present, to be better than they were yesterday and to lead by example as Staff Sgt. Kaneshiro did when he was called upon to defend his country.”
During a mission in the Kim Son Valley, Vietnam, in December 1966, Kaneshiro’s unit came under fire from North Vietnamese Troops. Kaneshiro crawled forward to attack, using six grenades and an M16 rifle. His brave actions saved the lives of U.S. Soldiers and resulted in success for the next mission of Army forces.
“Our vision in the division is to have a fit, disciplined, well trained, cohesive team trained to fight and win our wars,” said Richardson. “And what Staff Sgt. Kaneshiro did for us is role model that, he put those words into actions.”
Kaneshiro’s daughter, Naomi Viloria, who was 10 years old when he deployed to Vietnam, said growing up without a father and seeing the effect on their mother was difficult. However, she is proud of their father’s display of courage and determination during combat in Vietnam.
Following the White House ceremony, Kaneshiro was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes during a ceremony on July 6. Naomi was presented with a portrait of her father along with the Medal of Honor flag. Several key defense department leaders attended the including Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph M. Martin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
During her speech Wormuth said “In the moments that mattered most, these men made the choice time and time again to step forward, they reached deep into their personal reserves of faith, values, and training and in the most dangerous situations they mustered the strength to prevail.”
Kaneshiro served as a squad leader as part of the Blues unit, a unit that took the flight to the enemy. When the enemy was drawn out of their hiding spot, his unit was called to go in and look for the fight.
After months of intense fighting and countless acts of heroism, Kaneshiro was ultimately killed by the enemy in March 1967.
Kaneshiro left behind his wife Mitsuko, and their five children. Mitsuko passed away on April 10, 2022, less than three months from the Medal of Honor presentation, she was 90 years old.
“Staff Sgt. Kaneshiro showed courage and strength in an incredibly dangerous situation, said Lt. Col. James Ray, commander, 1-9 CAV. “His acts of heroism and gallantry serve as an incredible example. We are grateful for his sacrifice and bravery.”