Family of Hawaii guardsman pushes for highest honor

By Cam Tran
Published On: Mar 27 2013 02:13:57 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 27 2013 06:47:13 PM HST

The family of a Big Island soldier is pushing for an honor it considers long overdue.

HONOLULU -

Pictures and endearing letters are all Shirley Kauhaihao has left of her late husband John Kauhaihao.

But, in September 1969, the 27-year-old Hawaii National Guardsman died in the jungles of Vietnam.

During the conflict, Kauhaihao's platoon was outnumbered by North Vietnamese troops.

The soldier threw more than 30 hand grenades at the enemy so his men could reposition to safety.  During the exchange, he was hit by enemy gunfire and died.

On Wednesday, Shirley testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on a resolution which will ask the president to honor her husband with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"It's a very amazing feeling that 40 some odd years later, this is happening and it will be good for my children especially," said Shirley Kauhaihao.  "It would be such a great honor for him.  Because what I do know is he is very heroic."

After his death, the Big Island man was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest combat award.  But, his family says he deserves the utmost honor.

"I think it's long overdue," said George Cho, John Kauhaihao's uncle.  "After getting the information way back then of what he did and after getting the service star he deserved more than that."

The House committee passed the resolution on Wednesday.  If approved by both chambers, it will be forwarded to the Hawaii Congressional delegation and the president for their review.

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