By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (May 03, 2011) -- The names of two Korean War Soldiers posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor were placed into the Hall of Heroes during a ceremony May 3, 2011, at the Pentagon.
The families of medal recipients Pfc. Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano and Pfc. Henry Svehla were present at the ceremony. The families had received the medals from President Barack Obama on behalf of the two Soldiers during a ceremony at the White House just a day prior.
Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal spoke at the induction ceremony, first thanking the families of the recipients for working to ensure the Soldiers got the recognition they deserved, and also saying how the actions of the Soldiers in Korea remain an inspiration for Soldiers today -- who are also fighting a war.
Westphal said it was the actions of Kaho'ohanohano and Svehla during the Korean War that made possible the post-war lives of many who had served alongside them.
"Many of those who came back from that terrible conflict to be reunited with their family, did so because of the ultimate sacrifice by Anthony and Henry," Westphal said. "May Anthony and Henry rest in peace. May God bless them and their family, and may God bless the United States."
The Soldiers earned their medals during separate incidents in the war, and on different dates, but both were just out of their teens and far from the warm safety of their American homes when they died for their country -- fighting enemy aggression near the 38th Parallel in Korea.
Kaho'ohanohano, just 21, hailed from Hawaii. He left his home in Maui to fight with Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Chupa-ri, Korea, on Sept. 1, 1951.
Svehla, from Newark, N.J., was 20 when he fought with Company F, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division and distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on June 12, 1952, as a rifleman while on patrol near Pyongony, Korea.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also spoke of the Soldiers, both of whom were killed in action nearly 60 years ago.
"They were two very different men, kids really, both of them. And from different backgrounds," Dempsey said. "But they each faced a skilled, determined and numerically superior enemy -- and they inspired others to victory by their personal courage and they willingly gave up their lives for their fellow Soldiers."
The general promised family members the Army will not forget the names of or the contributions made by the two Soldiers.
"Today we remember Anthony Kaho'ohanohano and Henry Svehla, and we promise they will always be remembered and we make certain of that by their enshrinement here in the Hall of Heroes," Dempsey said. "Their legacies of courage, valor and sacrifice will not only be preserved in our Army and in our nation's history, but will inspire generations of Americans to the service of their country as well."
The Medal of Honor has been awarded less than 3,500 times, amongst the tens of millions of Americans who have served in combat for the United States since 1862.
Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III explained the rarity of the award.
"Its award is so rare because the feat of bravery it recognizes is so exceptional," Lynn said. Most of the recipients, he added, are "ordinary Americans who took extraordinary action on the battlefield."
The secretary added that it has been 60 years since the end of the Korean War, but "the example of their valor still endures."
Family members of the two Soldiers were afforded the opportunity to speak as well. George Kaho'ohanohano, the nephew of Anthony, commented on the commonality among the Medal of Honor recipients whose names are listed in the Hall of Heroes.
"Looking at all these names listed here and with Anthony and Henry joining it, I believe I see one common thread to this -- it's not the extraordinary gentlemen, it's the hometown person who becomes the Medal of Honor recipient," Kaho'ohanohano said. He also mentioned the kinship he and his family now feel with the Army.
"It's such a great feeling for my family and I to be here," he said. "We feel we've adopted another family -- the U.S. Army family. And we now have some brothers and sisters and cousins over in New Jersey."
Many of Svehla's family members remain in New Jersey.
Anthony Svehla Jr., Henry's nephew, spoke on behalf of his family, and thanked the Army and his congressman for making the Medal of Honor recognition happen.
"This is just amazing and what an honor for me and the rest of my family," he said. "We're all very proud."
(ARNEWS writer Rob McIlvaine contributed to this article.)