Poignant Stories of Wartime Bravery and Heart

Poignant Stories of Wartime Bravery and Heart

Fairfax Councilmembers talk about America’s heroes.

At noon, veterans raised the flag from half staff to the top of the flagpole.

At noon, veterans raised the flag from half staff to the top of the flagpole. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.

During Fairfax City’s Memorial Day ceremony, last Monday, May 27, two of the most poignant stories about America’s fallen veterans were told by Councilmembers Kate Doyle Feingold and Tom Ross:


Allen Hoe

“As a 13th-generation veteran of military service, this event is very important to my family,” said Kate Doyle Feingold, who served in the Marines. She then spoke about Allen Hoe, drafted to serve as a combat medic in Vietnam when he was 19. He returned home safely, but tragedy still struck his family.

“In 2005, his oldest son, Nainoa, was a first lieutenant and infantry platoon leader in Iraq,” said Doyle Feingold. “He was leading a foot patrol when he was killed by sniper fire. He and his wife were only married for seven months, and she was a widow at 21.”

Meanwhile, Hoe, his father, spent much of his life honoring slain service members and kept in touch with the mothers of people he’d witnessed die in Vietnam. A few months after his son’s death, Hoe was asked to travel to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., for an event honoring Army nurses. He did so, wearing on his chest a button with Nainoa’s photo on it.

“He brought white leis with him from his home state [of Hawaii],” said Doyle Feingold. “As he walked up to the wall, he saw a female Army nurse in uniform and offered her a lei. As he placed it over her shoulder, she saw the picture of his son and recognized him. She then told Mr. Hoe that she was the combat nurse who was with him when he passed away.

“Not wanting her to feel guilty in any way, he told her his son was a warrior who knew what he was getting into and was willing to make the sacrifice. Mr. Hoe attributes this chance encounter at the wall as one of the miracles at the Vietnam Memorial. And I encourage everyone to learn about some of the service members we’ve lost.”

Battle of Leyte Gulf

Ross, an Air Force veteran, spoke about the Battle of Leyte Gulf – the largest naval battle in modern history – fought in the Philippines in October 1944. More than 200,000 servicemen and hundreds of ships fought for four days in an area encompassing more than 100,000 square miles.

“There were terrible battles; the Japanese were trying to stop American troops from invading the Philippines,” explained Ross, who then related a particular incident. “One ship was captained by a Native American from Oklahoma,” he said. “And he took his destroyer and went after Japan’s gigantic battleships to stop them from destroying U.S. aircraft carriers and impeding Gen. MacArthur’s invasion. 

“He knew it was suicidal, but he and his crew of close to 400 men went head on with the largest battleship. Ultimately, they were destroyed and sunk, and about half the crew was thrown into the water – men of all ages and backgrounds, wounded and grasping for life. There were men who’d fought on the front line with the guns, men who’d supported them, as well as the cooks, stewards and maintenance people.”

For more than 20 hours, they were all in the ocean together. “Many perished, some survived,” said Ross. “But those we lost there – and in every other war in history – we remember today for their bravery, courage and for being one people together. May we carry that message with us out of today’s event – that we are one nation, one people and we are all in this together to preserve the way of life we benefit from today. We’re grateful for those who’ve served, and we commemorate their memories. May we never forget.”