At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, May 27, 2001


Oahu’s Hirai promoted
to general


By Gregg K. Kakesako

Col. James T. Hirai, a graduate of Leilehua High School and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, has been selected for promotion to brigadier general.

Hirai is now chief of staff of the U.S. Army Pacific. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1974 through the UH ROTC program.

His island assignments have included U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith in March 1989, where he served as a joint exercise operation officer and executive assistant to the director for operations. Hirai commanded the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Brigade Gimlets of 25th Infantry Division (Light) from June 1992 to June 1994. After attending the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., he was again assigned to Camp Smith, where he served as the speech-writer to the commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

He commanded the U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii, from June 1997 to August 1999 and became chief of staff in September 1999.

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Toshiyuki Hirai of Wahiawa. He is married to the former Karen Fujiwara. They have two children, Nicole and Justin.

Capt. Randall L. Thrash, representing the U.S. Army Pacific, was among 24 officers who were recognized for their outstanding leadership skills when they received the 2000 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award at a Pentagon ceremony this month.

He was commander of the Schofield Barracks Military Police Company when selected. His hometown is Anniston, Ala.

The annual award is given to Army officers who exhibit extraordinary leadership abilities and embody the ideals embraced by Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "duty, honor, country." Each awardee will receive a 15-pound bronze bust of MacArthur.

The history of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team will be aired at 7 p.m. June 9 on Hawaii Public Television.

"Reach for the Sky: Inside the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds" traces the history of the demonstration team and includes a July 1977 crash at Cheyenne, Wyo. Both crew members ejected, but the pilot did not survive. The Thunderbirds, flying F-16 Fighting Falcons, are scheduled for 14 performances in seven Pacific locations this fall, including Hickam Air Force Base on Oct. 27.

Moving up

Schofield Barracks:

>> Lt. Col. Steven A. Ware to command the 325th Forward Support Battalion replacing Lt. Col. James M. Moore.

>> Lt. Col. David T. Jones to lead the 556th Personnel Services Battalion replacing Lt. Col. Thomas C. Seamands.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at


Rides to veterans
clinic and
offices available

Question: I don't drive, and using public transportation is very difficult. Are there any other ways to get to my appointments at the Veterans Administration?

Answer: The VA operates two shuttles services. One goes from the Kalihi bus depot and stops at the Honolulu Airport Interisland Baggage Claim B, Nimitz Highway and Puuloa Road and then returns to Tripler Army Medical Center and the VA clinic. This shuttle departs at 6:45 a.m. and every 45 minutes until noon. From noon the shuttle runs every hour until 4 p.m. Airport pickups begin on the third run, starting at 8:50 a.m.

The second shuttle runs from the federal building's child-care center starting at 8:30 a.m. and every hour until 2 p.m. A veteran's spouse, dependent or VA-authorized caregiver is allowed to accompany a veteran. For more information concerning the shuttle service, contact the VA transportation program at 433-0164.

There also is Handi-Van transportation for a fee. For more information, call 456-5555. The Disabled American Veterans operates a van Monday through Friday for veterans requiring medical care to and from the VA clinic. There is no fee. If you are interested in utilizing this service, contact the DAV at 433-7752.

Q: I am currently enrolled with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Where can I get emergency care when the VA is closed?

A: Emergency services are available at Tripler Army Medical Center through an agreement with the VA.

When traveling outside Honolulu, you may receive emergency services at any VA health care facility in the United States. If there is no VA medical facility in the area where you reside or are traveling, seek emergency medical care from the closest non-VA medical facility. However, you may be fully responsible for payment of those services if you do not meet eligibility requirements for emergency care in non-VA facilities.

Basically, the VA may provide payment for these services if you are having a medical emergency, are enrolled and being followed by a VA provider, have no other health insurance (including Medicare), and there are no VA facilities nearby. Keep in mind that the VA must be notified within 48 hours of care. Failure to meet the 48-hour requirement may result in denial of claim for VA payment.

If you have questions about benefits as a veteran, call Fred W. Ballard, assistant public affairs officer, at 433-0049, or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.



>> Waikiki Natatorium and War Memorial annual service. 10 a.m. Mayor Jeremy Harris to speak.

>> Roll call of honor in remembrance ceremony. National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, guest speaker. 4 p.m.

>> 17th annual Sunset Memorial Service pays homage to veterans who gave their lives in the Korean War. Gov. Ben Cayetano will give address. Eternal Flame memorial across from the state Capitol, Beretania Street. 6 p.m.


Memorial Day activities.

>> Arizona Memorial: H. Delano Roosevelt, grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, guest speaker at USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center. 7:45 a.m.

>> National Cemetery of the Pacific: The Mayor's 52nd Annual Memorial Day Program. 8:30 a.m.

>> Pearl Harbor Submarine Base memorial: U.S. Pacific Fleet's Submarine Force ceremonies. 11 a.m.

>> Schofield Barracks: Post Cemetery on Lyman Road. Col. William R. Puttmann Jr., Army garrison commander, guest speaker. 11:30 a.m.

>> Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe: Gov. Ben Cayetano, guest speaker. 1 p.m.



Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf
USS Chosin (CG 65)
USS Columbia (SSN 771)

Western Pacific
USS Chicago (SSN 721)
USS Louisville (SSN 724)
USS Kamehameha (SSN 642)
USS Santa Fe (SSN 763)
USS Los Angeles (SSN 688)
USS Frederick (LST 1184)

Hawaii area
USS Russell (DDG 59)
USS Charlotte (SSN 766)

Eastern Pacific / West Coast U.S.
USS O'Kane (DDG 77)
USS Port Royal (CG 73)


Louisiana: 25th Division

Sinai: 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment

Philippines, Australia: Tripler Army Medical Center, 25th Division

Alaska, Kosrae, San Diego, E. Micronesia, Bangladesh: 84th Engineers

East Timor, Thailand, Australia: 25th Division, 9th Regional Support Command (U.S. Army Reserve)

Honduras, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, Palau: Tripler Army Medical Center

Bosnia & Kosovo: 25th Division, 9th Regional Support Command

Madagascar: 412th Engineers


Germany, Turkey and Italy: 201st Combat Communications Group, Air National Guard


Guam: HH-65 helicopter

American Samoa: UGC Washington, UGC Walnut


Okinawa: 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; C Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment

Thailand: Combat Service Support Detachment 79

E-mail to City Desk

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