Hawaii soldier awarded State Medal of Valor for hurricane rescue

A Hawaii National Guardsman received the State Medal of Valor last weekend for his heroic actions that saved the lives of six people during a hurricane.

Staff Sgt. Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho, of Bravo Company, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, was given the prestigious award on Feb. 9 by Hawaii Gov. David Ige at Wheeler Army Airfield.

"You epitomize the citizen-soldier and are a shining example of what valor is,” Ige said at Saturday’s ceremony honoring Lum Ho.

A State Medal of Valor is given to “individuals who distinguish themselves through a performance of an uncommon act of personal heroism involving the voluntary risk of his/her own life,” according to an Army release.

Lum Ho was assigned to Task Force Hawaii, which was created in response to the eruption of the Kilauea volcano. On Aug 23, 2018, Task Force Hawaii’s mission changed to one of flood support with the advent of Hurricane Lane, which would produce the second highest amount of rain of any hurricane in the U.S. since 1950.

While Lum Ho and Pvt. Justin Dejesus were on a security patrol, they came across a family who were cut off from assistance by flood water and whose house was on the verge of collapse. Lum Ho worked with first responders to drive them to the family in his Humvee.

Lum Ho executed “a series of very difficult decisions … that would save the lives of a family of six, and one family pet,” Ige said at the ceremony.

During Lum Ho’s acceptance speech, he credited both the leadership training he received in the National Guard for preparing him for emergencies and his fellow service members for always having his back.

It was a team effort, he said. “[From] my co-driver who helped me navigate through the debris ... to the mechanics that actually got my Humvee ready every night and kept it safe for me, without those guys, none of this would happen.”