Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day: Two to Remember

Life is tough. It is difficult to step back and take perspective on tough. We have an inbox full of e-mails to attend to, meetings to prepare for, and customers to serve. We cherish the three day Memorial Day Weekend to step away from it all, if only temporarily.

But the reason for the day was given to us by those that cannot celebrate it. They signed their name on the line, and we sent them to the line, gun in hand. Right a wrong. Liberate another country. Protect us. And they did.

I would like to highlight two of those individuals so I can be reflective on this solemn day. And perhaps make it easier for you to do the same. At your Memorial Day cookout, I encourage you to feature one of these selfless countrymen to your family and friends. 

Cpl. Kenneth Stuck

In 2016, more than 65 years after he was killed in action in the Korean War and labeled missing in action, Corporal Kenneth Stuck came home in a flag-draped coffin to Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.

Cpl Stuck was with the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry while involved in the Battle of Unsan, which was a devastating loss for American and UN Troops. Multiple engagements, beginning on October 25, 1950, resulted in heavy losses among the 1st Cavalry. 

Although likely injured, Kenny survived the onslaught but was taken captive by the enemy, and imprisoned in North Korea's notorious Camp 5 in Pyoktong. Testing revealed that Kenny likely died of starvation. He starved to death. In a POW camp. 

He was buried in a mass grave of 322 bodies. Where he remained for the next 65 years. Until the U.S. Army was allowed to excavate the site, and DNA identified his remains.

On this Memorial Day, remember Kenny Stuck, one of the greater than 36,000 American troops that perished in the Korean conflict that was fought to keep South Korea free from communist rule.

Private Mikio Hasemoto

Pvt Hasemoto, a Hawaiian Nisei (Japanese American), was part of the 100th Infantry Battalion (separate). Separate because Nisei were separated from the regular 100th as a result of their heritage.
These soldiers served with honor, even though they faced prejudice, and their families lived under the cloud of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt to remand certain people of Japanese, German, and Italian descent to camps to reduce the risk of enemy infiltration. 

Mikio distinguished himself in Italy on November 29, 1943. His unit faced a force of 40 enemy soldiers that attacked the left flank of his platoon. While under heavy fire, he and his squad leader killed 30 of them, and injured or captured the rest.

The following day was a repeat of the prior day. Although, while under heavy fire, Mikio was mortally wounded. 

He received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions and heroism. Remember Private Hasemoto.

Feel free to share your Memorial Day memories in the comment section.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

~ Jeff 

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