Pilot killed in Iraq is buried in the Philippines
VALENZUELA, Philippines >> A U.S. Army pilot who lived in Wahiawa was buried with full military honors today near the Philippine-town where he was born.
Chief Warrant Officer Ruel Garcia, 34, was killed in Iraq on Jan. 16 when his helicopter was shot town. He was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas.
He received posthumously the Bronze Star, the fourth highest U.S. military award for gallantry in action, as well as the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
"As these medals demonstrate, his bravery in the field, professional aviation skills, and devotion to his adopted country will always be remembered," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement, as the U.S. Army provided full military burial honors in suburban Valenzuela city, next to his hometown of Obando.
"Chief Garcia made the ultimate sacrifice so that his fellow men can live in peace and freedom," the embassy said.
Garcia was at least the third Filipino-American soldier killed on duty in Iraq and buried in the Philippines.
"We are grateful as this makes the heaviness in our hearts a little bearable," Garcia's father, Rosendo, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "We believe he died for something good."
The family did not make any statements at today's burial.
Born in the Philippines on Aug. 24, 1971, Garcia graduated from a Manila college with a degree in electrical engineering before moving to the U.S. in 1987.
He attended the adult high school at Waipahu at nights to get a high school diploma. With that, he got into the Air Force in 1992, where he served for four years. After he became a naturalized citizen, he switched to the Army to attend helicopter flight school.
He was killed when his AH-64 Apache attack helicopter crashed north of Taji. It was his second combat tour in Iraq. Family friend Benny Quiseng told the Star-Bulletin last month that he had gotten a call from Garcia before he returned to Iraq and that he was not happy about going back.
"He told me, it can't be helped," Quiseng said. "I'm a pilot, and I am doing this for my country."
Garcia is also survived by is mother Cynthia Garcia, wife Apple, of Harker Heights, Texas, brother Ramisis, of the Philippines, sister Eden and step-grandmother Gloria.
Baptiste wants unity for police factions
LIHUE » No matter what happens with the upheaval surrounding Police Chief K.C. Lum, the Kauai Police Department must heal, Garden Isle Mayor Bryan Baptiste said yesterday.
Baptiste, who has called for Lum's resignation, would not comment specifically on the chief's civil rights lawsuit that lists the mayor as a defendant. But Baptiste said he intends to "stay focused on the rebuilding of the police department ... and to bring the factions together."
The mayor said he will ask the County Council for funding to provide facilitators so that police officers can get together, and he wants an operational audit to find out what needs to be fixed at KPD.
"It's not just one man that makes or breaks a department," the mayor said.
He said all of KPD wants to get past the bitter infighting pitting officers who support Lum against those who back Assistant Chief Clayton Arinaga.
Lum said he agreed that officers need to stop the infighting.
"That was my primary intention, to bring the factions together," Lum said. "In order to do that, I must not have outside interference."
WWI-era munitions set for demolition
Schofield Barracks demolition experts plan to detonate six pieces of chemical ordnance believed to contain a World War I-era choking gas agent today.
The munitions were found while construction workers were clearing a training range. The chemical agent chloropicrin was in six of 14 World War I pieces found on the range, Army officials said.
Experts from the 22nd Chemical Battalion determined that the 14 items were unsafe to move. The eight agent-free pieces already have been destroyed, they said.
Another 138 pieces of ordnance were found during other range clearing operations as the Army upgrades its facilities to make room for a new Stryker brigade.
The Army said the contents of the munitions are being investigated. Those munitions are being stored at Schofield Barracks until officials decide how to get rid of them.
Police, Fire, Courts
Police say man broke girlfriend's nose
Police arrested a 32-year-old man who allegedly hit his girlfriend hard enough from behind to break her nose.
The victim, 32, got to her Niu Street home in Waikiki about 4 a.m. Sunday, police said. A friend was with her, police said. While she was in the bathroom, she was struck from behind by the suspect and her face shattered the mirror, police said.
The victim's friend took her to the hospital. The suspect turned himself in to police Monday afternoon and was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault.
Suspect arrested for alleged sex assault
Police arrested a 24-year-old man after he allegedly raped a woman he met at a mall last year.
Police said the victim, 19, met the suspect on Dec. 23 and was talked into going to his home, where she was sexually assaulted.
Police said the suspect avoided them until Monday when they found him at his home in Kaimuki. The suspect was arrested for investigation of two counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree sexual assault.
2 women hospitalized after car accident
Two people were in critical condition after their car crashed into several cars and a telephone pole on North King Street early yesterday.
Police said both victims were in a 1996 Saturn that ran a red light while heading Ewa on North King Street at 1:17 a.m. when they struck a 1998 Ford sport utility vehicle that was turning left onto North King Street from Palama Street. After colliding with the SUV, the Saturn struck two parked vehicles and a telephone pole.
Police said both the male driver and passenger of the Saturn were taken to the Queen's Medical Center in critical condition, while the driver of the SUV, a 29-year-old Aiea woman, was unharmed. Traffic investigators said speed and alcohol may have been factors in the crash.
2 crash fatalities ID'd as Waipahu teenagers
Two teenage girls who were killed in a car crash Sunday have been identified by the Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office.
The driver was identified as 19-year old Jocelyn Plunkett-Kaaihue of Waipahu. A passenger in the front seat of the car was identified as Cresile Sabado, 15, also of Waipahu. Medical officials said Plunkett-Kaaihue died of multiple internal injuries while Sabado died of head injuries.
Police said Plunkett-Kaaihue was driving at a high rate of speed on Paakea Road in a white 2004 Nissan Maxima sedan about 5:40 a.m. Also in the car, in the back seat, was a 16-year-old boy of Honolulu. He was initially listed in critical condition.
Police said the vehicle went airborne over a rise in the roadway and struck a raised concrete curb at the corner of Paakea and Apana roads. The vehicle flipped onto its left side and slid into a street sign, a fence and a utility pole, breaking the pole in half, police said.
Police said the roof of the vehicle collapsed and crushed both the driver and front-seat passenger. They were pronounced dead at the scene at about 6:30 a.m.