PARC’s namesake provides perfect warrior example

| December 11, 2015 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Capt.) John Aasman
Division Artillery
25th Infantry Division

Before you joined the Army, you might have dreamed of becoming Captain America or some Soldier of movie star stature … and then the grim reality of day-to-day training and working with other people stole your dreams, plans and desire to fulfill your warrior calling.


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” — Colossians 3:23.


I’d like to propose you take some time this month to renew your passion for your warrior vocation.

Here’s a Captain America story to get you started.


One American Soldier versus the North Korean army

The first Hawaiian to receive the Medal of Honor became a legend on Sept. 17, 1951, at “Heartbreak Ridge.” Pfc. Herbert K. Pilila’au was from Waianae, on the west side of Oahu, and graduated from Waipahu High School. He was drafted during the Korean War at 22 years old.

Because of his religious beliefs, he considered becoming a conscientious objector, but he decided against this, reported for duty and made himself the most physically strong member of his company. A few months after joining the Army, he was sent to Korea. Those who knew him said this 6-foot tall Captain America humbly kept to himself, played the ukulele and read his Bible.

At the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, Pilila’au’s platoon came under attack by two battalions of North Korean infantry with supporting artillery fire. They were ordered to withdraw, and Pilila’au volunteered to cover his squad’s withdrawal. He fired his automatic weapon and threw his grenades until he ran out, and then he threw rocks.

Herbert K. Pililaau

Then, Pilila’au ran toward the enemy, stabbing with his trench knife in his right hand and hitting with his left fist until he was shot and bayoneted. When U.S. forces retook the position, they found more than 40 enemy dead in the area Pilila’au had valiantly defended.

I love how this Soldier, from the start, committed himself to becoming better. He had reservations about joining the Army, but once he was drafted, he pursued becoming a better warrior – physically, spiritually and tactically. He volunteered for difficult and dangerous assignments. He learned tactical skills like hand-to-hand combat, which he used to devastating effect on the enemy.

He never gave up

When you raised your right hand to swear to defend the Constitution, you committed yourself to becoming a better warrior. Consider how you might use this holiday season to pursue physical, spiritual or tactical growth. Maybe military stories inspire you, or maybe the beauty of nature moves you to push your personal growth boundaries. Pursue whatever draws you out of complacency.

As a child, Pilila’au played on the sandy shores of Pokai Bay. The Pilila’au Army Recreation Center (PARC) in Waianae is named in his honor. Here, the power of legendary story and natural beauty join together.

You might see my family there this month. Gather a group of friends, and visit PARC for a day or a whole weekend. Use this beautiful surfing and swimming beach to dream and plan.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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