There are numerous tales of valor that have come out of the wars fought by the United States military over the span of US history. Here is one that is particularly amazing.
Herbert Kailieha Pililaʻau was a PFC in the United States Army during the Korean War. Pililaʻau briefly considered declaring himself a conscientious objector, due to his Christian faith, however, he ultimately decided to fight. He would end up being one of the heroes of the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
Pililaʻau single handedly covered a retreat by his fellow troops first by using all available ammunition for his BAR, then throwing all of his grenades and finally by engaging in hand to hand combat with the enemy using only his trench knife and fists. He was ultimately killed by an enemy bayonet attack after being surrounded.
Once his fellow soldiers retook the area, they found Pililaʻau’s body, surrounded by 40 dead Korean soldiers.
Pililaʻau was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Here is his Medal of Honor citation:
Pfc. Pililaau, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. The enemy sent wave after wave of fanatical troops against his platoon which held a key terrain feature on “Heartbreak Ridge.”
Valiantly defending its position, the unit repulsed each attack until ammunition became practically exhausted and it was ordered to withdraw to a new position. Voluntarily remaining behind to cover the withdrawal, Pfc. Pililaau fired his automatic weapon into the ranks of the assailants, threw all his grenades and, with ammunition exhausted, closed with the foe in hand-to-hand combat, courageously fighting with his trench knife and bare fists until finally overcome and mortally wounded.
When the position was subsequently retaken, more than 40 enemy dead were counted in the area he had so valiantly defended. His heroic devotion to duty, indomitable fighting spirit, and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army.
Pililaʻau now has a Navy ship and a military firing range named after him for his valiant effort.