By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Staff Writer
PASADENA.–The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade was held on Tuesday, with all the pomp and pageantry that makes the event a New Year’s Day tradition.
The festivities were accompanied by a moment of somber reflection and gratitude, as a float bearing a replica of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, with six veterans of that conflict riding on it, made its way down the five-and-a-half-mile route.
The float, sponsored by the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, stands some 21 feet high and 55 feet long, with the poignant sculpted figures of soldiers braving the harsh elements of the war that further divided the Korean Peninsula before hostilities were halted in 1953.
Among the Korean War vets making the trip to Pasadena to participate were Minoru Tonai and Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura from Gallup, New Mexico.
As the float rolled along the route, a great many of the more than one million spectators stood and applauded in appreciation for the service and sacrifice each of the men gave.
“We are really very proud to be riding in this parade,” Miyamura, 87, said before the start of the parade. “For all of us who were over there, and those who are serving now and who ever served, we are very happy to have the recognition.”
Miyamura, who also served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, fended off an overwhelming number of enemy troops in April 1951, near Taejon-ni. He was later taken prisoner and was a POW for more than two years. He received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower after his release in 1953.
Now 83, Tonai served nearly a year as a medical sergeant with the 224th Regimental Combat Team in the Kumsong region during the conflict. He said he was as awestruck with the float as when he first saw the memorial located in the nation’s capital.
“When I saw it in Washington for the first time, it really was emotional for me, because it really depicted what it was like when we were on patrol,” said Tonai.