WASHINGTON — The White House announced on June 27 that President Biden will award the Medal of Honor to four U.S. Army soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War.
Scheduled to be recognized on July 5 are Staff Sgt. Edward N. Kaneshiro, Specialist 5 Dwight W. Birdwell, Specialist 5 Dennis M. Fujii, and retired Maj. John J. Duffy.
Kaneshiro, whose hometown was Honolulu, will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an infantry squad leader with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, near Phu Huu 2, Kim Son Valley, Republic of Vietnam, on Dec. 1, 1966.
Kaneshiro and his team entered the village of Phu Huu 2 while on a search-and-destroy mission and were attacked by North Vietnamese. He destroyed one enemy group with rifle fire and two others with grenades, which enabled the orderly extrication and reorganization of the platoon and ultimately led to a successful withdrawal from the village.
He served in Vietnam between July 18, 1966, until his death on March 6, 1967, as a result of a hostile gunshot wound.
Fujii, a native of Kauai, will receive the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as crew chief aboard a helicopter ambulance during rescue operations in Laos and the Republic of Vietnam from Feb. 18 to 22, 1971. During a mission to evacuate seriously wounded Vietnamese military personnel, Fujii’s medevac helicopter took on enemy fire and was forced to crash land. Although injured, he waved off a rescue from another helicopter and remained behind as the only American on the battlefield.
During that night and the next day, although wounded, he administered first aid to allied casualties. On the night of Feb. 19, he called in American helicopter gunships to assist in repelling an enemy attack. For more than 17 hours, he repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire as he left the security of his entrenchment to better observe enemy troop positions and to direct air strikes against them until an American helicopter could attempt to airlift him from the area.
Upon completion of his tour, he joined the Army Reserve and today resides in Hawaii.
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the armed forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:
• Engaged in an action against an enemy of the U.S.;
• Engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
• Serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.