Thursday, December 11, 2003

Relatives of Pvt. 1st Class Herbert Pililaau, who won the Medal of Honor in Korea, visit the USNS Pililaau, named after him. Brother Edward Pililaau, right, holds the ship's ensign, which was presented to him and his family. Next to him is brother Bobby Paaluhi, and in the wheelchair in white is his sister Agnes Nani Kim. Standing at left is Mercy Garcia, sister.

Medal of Honor winner
gets another accolade

The Army rec center in Waianae
will bear Herbert Pililaau's name

Hawaii's first Medal of Honor recipient, Pvt. 1st Class Herbert Kaili Pililaau, will receive another honor tomorrow when the Waianae Army Recreation Center is named after him.

The training range in the Makua Military Reservation also bears the name of Pililaau, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously after being killed in Korea on Sept. 17, 1951.

Pililaau, a member of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, volunteered to stay behind to cover the withdrawal of his unit.

He died in hand-to-hand combat while defending a portion of "Heartbreak Ridge" near Pi-ri. He is credited with killing 40 North Koreans in the battle.

A city park in Waianae also bears his name.

Yesterday, 30 members of Pililaau's family paid a visit to the 950-foot Bob Hope-class cargo vessel that also is named after the Waianae hero.

It is the first time the USNS Pililaau has made a port call at Pearl Harbor since it was placed into service a year ago.

The 62,000-ton USNS Pililaau cargo vessel arrived at Pearl Harbor Nov. 22 for repairs and to pick up 20 Kiowa Warrior helicopters; 20 Humvees; 1,000 trucks, trailers and other support vehicles; and 300 containers holding equipment the 25th Infantry Division will need when its 2nd Brigade ships out for Iraq in February.

The Army plans to start loading the ship, which has seven decks -- equivalent to eight football fields -- next week.

Abigail Chase, Pililaau family historian, said her family "is honored that the Army has paid tribute to my uncle" by naming portions of the Makua Valley military complex after him.

Chase, 52, said her uncle was "a quiet person. He studied music. He wanted to be a police officer."


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