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Sunday, March 16, 2003



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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Megan Pearson, left, and boyfriend Josh Reid, and Frederick Potts and fiancee Jessica Pearson, Megan's sister, kissed yesterday before the USS Chosin departed from Pearl Harbor. The cruiser is part of a battle group headed to the Persian Gulf.




Loved ones bid aloha
to crew members
of USS Chosin

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Ex-magistrate joins protesters



CORRECTION

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

» Capt. Richard J. Nolan, Jr., commanding officer of the USS Chosin, was the second commanding officer of the USS Cole, from 1997 to 1999. He was stationed at the Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, R.I., when the Cole was attacked in Yemen. He is returning to the Persian Gulf on the Chosin for the first time since he was deployed there as commanding officer of the Cole. A story on Page A1 on Sunday incorrectly stated that Nolan was stationed on the USS Cole when it was attacked.



The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

By Helen Altonn
haltonn@starbulletin.com

It wasn't hard to spot the only Hawaiian aboard the USS Chosin when the warship left Pearl Harbor yesterday for the Persian Gulf, loudly playing the song "I'm Proud to be an American."


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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shane Paalua, who according to family is the only native Hawaiian aboard the USS Chosin, waved yesterday to his family on the pier.


Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Paalua stood out among the 400 white-uniformed sailors manning the rails of the departing cruiser because of colorful leis around his neck.

Nine family members saw Paalua off, including his wife, Kim; sons Levi, 12, and Liko, 10; parents Wilda and Kaeo Paalua; and other relatives. He is the Paaluas' only son. His grandmother is legendary entertainer Genoa Keawe.

Paalua was deployed once before for six months, but this mission could extend to eight months, his wife said.

"This time it's a little different with such a threat of war," Kim Paalua said. "It's what they have to do, to support the president. ... They're prepared for it. They trained well."

The Chosin's commander, Capt. Richard Nolan, veteran of Desert Storm and the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000, said this is his eighth deployment in almost 25 years.

"We're always a little anxious as we launch, but the crew has trained hard. ... As we watch the world situation change, as the president calls us into action, we'll be ready," he said.

The Chosin is one of four warships in the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier battle group, which will be the sixth such group in the Persian Gulf. The Nimitz left Pearl Harbor just ahead of the Chosin.

If war with Iraq should erupt before the ships reach their destination in about a month, a significant force is already in the region that could respond, Nolan said.

He said this will be his first time back in that area since the attack on the Cole, so "this is special to me."

The Chosin, an Aegis guided-missile cruiser, can fire Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets on land and is equipped with other weapons that can be used against enemy ships, submarines and aircraft.

Nolan said the crew is motivated because they know how important their mission is to the nation and to protect their families.

Nolan said he's been based in Hawaii on the ship for about a year and his family is here, including two children, 6 and 8.

"It's my first tour in Hawaii and I've really enjoyed it," he said.

He noted the presence yesterday of members of the Chosin Few -- survivors of the battle at Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1950, for which the USS Chosin is named.

"Their legacy is very important to us, a source of inspiration to us as we deploy," Nolan said.

Bob Talmadge, president of the 54-member Aloha Chapter of Chosin Few, said, "We're primarily keeping alive the memory of the people who didn't come back and who passed on ahead of us."

He said sending the battle groups to the Persian Gulf "is the right thing to do."

Several hundred family members and friends parted from their loved ones on the pier with quiet last-minute talks, embraces and tears.

Some displayed signs, such as "Ciao Spice Girls." That was for the first five female officers on the Chosin, the "first wave of integration," said Ensign Nadia Blackton, a gunnery officer and one of the original five. Now there are 11 female officers aboard, she said.

Petty Officer Emanuel Bolton, a sonar technician, said he has been apart from his wife, Melissa, and daughter, Shian, 3, on 30-day missions, but this is his first for six months.

But, he said, "I feel I'm doing my duty so my wife and daughter can sleep at night."

His wife added, "I'm scared, but I support him."

Parting from his wife, Judy, and daughter, Genelyn, 6 months, was especially hard for Petty Officer Eugene Gabriel. "When I get back, she'll be walking and talking," he said.

"You just hope they'll be safe," said Shannette Martin, watching her husband Leon leave on his first deployment. "I'm going to miss him. It's going to be hard to deal with two kids (Tationa, 5, and Leon, 2)."

Tationa, crying, said she'll miss her dad, but he told her, "I'm coming back."

Stephanie, 7, clutched a big stuffed dog given to her by her mother, Becky Ramos, an officer on the Chosin. Her father, Abraham, is also in the Navy and shipped out in November, said his sister, Michele Ramos-Tenorio, accompanying Stephanie.

Stephanie, now staying with her grandparents, Abraham and Carol Ramos, said her mother told her she was leaving on the Chosin "because she has to save our country."



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