ID senator recognizes WWII hero almost 70 years after he died in battle

Credit: Eric Turner / KTVB

Captain Thomas Hoyne died on the island of Leyte in the Philippines in 1944 after leading an attack on a Japanese machine gun nest.

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by Matt Standal

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBMatt

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 2, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 3 at 8:38 AM

BOISE -- Army National Guard Captain Thomas Hoyne was born in Boise, but now lies buried in the Philippines. His story will not be forgotten.

Hoyne lost his life during an attack on a Japanese machine gun nest in 1944 on Christmas Eve Day. His bravery and self-sacrifice would go largely unrecognized for nearly 70 years.

That changed Monday morning at the offices of Senator Jim Risch in Boise. That's where Thomas Hoyne's son Mike, his grandson John, and great grandson Harrison were presented with the medals Hoyne earned -- but never received -- while fighting to save other soldiers on several occasions.

Hoyne was posthumously awarded the WWII Victory Medal, The Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, and the American Defense Service Medal.

Then came an unexpected twist.

"You think that's the end of it? Well, we've actually done some more digging," Risch announced halfway through the ceremony.

RISCH DISCOVERS MORE DISTINCTIONS

The Idaho senator went on to produce six more medals he bestowed upon Hoyne's family in recognition of the Boise native's actions.

Those awards included the Purple Heart, Bronze Star for heroism, and the most prestigious of all, the Silver Star for gallantry in battle.

Hoyne's family was grateful for the news after contacting Senator Risch for help.

According to his son, Thomas Hoyne was activated in March of 1941, and first sent overseas to Guadalcanal, where he fought and earned the Bronze Star in February 1944.

The 34-year-old National Guard Captain was then deployed to the Philippines where he fatefully led six men on an attack of a Japanese machine gun nest on the island of Leyte.

It was here that Hoyne told his comrades to retreat after one was wounded, then went on alone to kill one or more of the machine gunners. It was during this attack that he tragically lost his own life.

He is buried in Manila, Philippines.

A FATHER'S LEGACY

Senator Jim Risch spoke openly about his willingness to work with Mike Hoyne to investigate recognize his father's brave actions, saying that in many cases the records of military members become lost or miscategorized, and these particular awards "fell through the cracks."

"It is such a good feeling to see these people get the recognition they so justly deserve," Risch said after the ceremony.

When asked how he felt on this day, Mike Hoyne choked up while remembering his father.

"Sometimes, it's hard to think ... talk about it," Hoyne said while fighting back tears.

Later on, he said it was important to him that people understand that his father was a 34-year-old bus driver who volunteered to fight in the Army National Guard in WWII because he felt it was his duty.

"He has three great grandsons, so they'll have to carry the torch one of these days," Hoyne said.

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