It’s September 17, 1951. The Korean War has been raging for 15 months and the fighting on Hill 931 in North Korea is bitter and deadly. Private First Class Herbert K. Pililaau’s platoon has retreated down the slopes of the hill in the face of determined North Korean opposition. Could Pililaau hold off the enemy long enough to allow his buddies to escape?
Herbert Kailieha Pililaau was born in October 1928 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents lived in a working class district of Waiʻanae on the edge of the city. His father William Kaluhi Pililaau and his mother Abigail Keolalani Kailieha were both born and bred Hawaiians.
Pililaau was the ninth of his parents’ nine boys and five girls. Growing up, he showed an aptitude for music and was an accomplished singer as well as a skilled ukulele player. He was also an ardent reader, something that no doubt helped him in his successful 1948 graduation from Waipahu High School.