CRAIG T. KOJIMA /
At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific yesterday, McKinley High school JROTC cadet Sarah Rebar held a flower wreath for Lt. Gov. James Aiona.
Veterans of wars past and present are honored in isle ceremonies
It wasn't until after the Veterans Day ceremony at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe that Korean War vet Harold Yamauchi cried.
"Normally, I don't get emotional," he said yesterday as he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe away tears.
"They put their lives on the line to protect our way of life in America."
Gov. Linda Lingle
Speaking of Hawaii-based
military personnel who
have lost their lives
What brought on the tears was the memory of that
day 53 years ago when he was one of only two survivors in his 10-man squad. Of 150 soldiers in his 7th Division, 31st Regiment, L Company at the battle of Triangle Hill, only 40 survived, Yamauchi recalled.
Yesterday's ceremony was the first time Yamauchi had attended a Veterans Day ceremony in 50 years. He was convinced to come, he said, after traveling to South Korea last fall and being impressed with the country's prosperity.
"The economy of South Korea is so great. It makes you feel good," Yamauchi said, especially when contrasted with its war-torn state in 1955 and the austerity of North Korea. It makes him feel his comrades' sacrifices were not in vain.
The Governor's Veterans Day Ceremony in Kaneohe was attended by about 700 veterans and others, estimated Michael Oh, assistant director of the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery.
Oahu's other main public Veterans Day observance yesterday was the Mayor's Veterans Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. And in Wahiawa, veterans of wars past and present were honored at the 60th annual Veterans Day parade down California Avenue.
Emotion was high for Allen Hoe, who served as master of ceremonies for the Kaneohe ceremony. On top of the decades-old losses of buddies in Vietnam, he has a fresh wound: the loss of his son, Nainoa Hoe, 27.
Army 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe, a 1995 Kamehameha Schools graduate, was killed Jan. 22 in Mosul, Iraq, by a sniper's bullet.
Speaking of Hawaii-based military who have lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past four years, Gov. Linda Lingle said, "They put their lives on the line to protect our way of life in America."
Lingle urged everyone to "take a moment today to say thank you" to the men and women in the military. "Just go right up to them -- I do it wherever I am -- and say, 'Thank you,'" she said.
Dozens of representatives from Hawaii's more than 200 veterans associations placed leis in front of the war memorial monument at the Kaneohe cemetery.
The threat of rain held off until near the end of the Kaneohe ceremony, when attendees came out from under large tents to watch flyovers by the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 from the Marine Corps Base Hawaii and a Black Hawk helicopter from Company B of the 1st BN, 168th Aviation Regiment of the Hawaii Army National Guard.
People stood in the light rain while the Black Hawk made a "missing man" search.