DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Gov. Linda Lingle were among the dignitaries who welcomed President Bush and first lady Laura Bush back to the United States yesterday. CLICK FOR LARGE
Bush keeps low profile
The president and Mrs. Bush are greeted at Hickam by Lingle and other dignitaries during a stopover en route to Washington
PRESIDENT Bush and first lady Laura Bush received a low-key local welcome yesterday evening at Hickam Air Force Base, with leis, a private dinner and little of the fanfare that marked their last visit here in 2003.
The first couple, on their way back to Washington, D.C., after an eight-day trip to Asia, were met at the airport by a small contingent of local dignitaries, including Gov. Linda Lingle, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former state Sen. Bob Hogue and Sam Aiona, the state GOP chairman.
Before President Bush and his wife, Laura, leave Hickam Air Force Base at about 9:30 a.m. today, they have the following events scheduled:
» Breakfast: The president is scheduled to have break-fast with about 300 troops at Hickam Air Force Base.
» Meetings: The first couple then travels to Camp Smith where the president will get a briefing from Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and other military leaders. The first lady will meet with military spouses to discuss military housing, quality of life, educational and other issues for families stationed here. The Bushes will then return to Hickam for their departure. Motorists are warned to avoid the roads near Hickam and Camp Smith during the morning.
"He looked refreshed," the lieutenant governor said after greeting the president. "He looked energized. He looked like a leader should look."
Also greeting Bush was Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and his wife, Mary.
Lingle and Fallon draped leis on the president and first lady before Bush stepped aside to greet Eloise Monsarrat, a volunteer with the Human Animal Bond Program at Tripler Army Medical Center. Bush presented Monsarrat, 84, with the Volunteer Service Award.
Bush also was accompanied by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Air Force One touched down at about 5:25 p.m. on a gusty, overcast day. Bush and the first lady emerged a few minutes later and met with the group of dignitaries for about five minutes before leaving in his motorcade. He did not speak to the roughly two dozen members of the media gathered for his arrival.
The president made no public appearances or public remarks last night.
After being whisked away in the motorcade, consisting of about three dozen vehicles, Bush went to Fallon's home at Pearl Harbor for dinner with Lingle and others.
While Aiona said he would not have another meeting with the president during the brief stopover, he expected Lingle to aggressively pursue issues of interest to Hawaii with Bush.
"The governor's not afraid to talk about what's needed for Hawaii," Aiona said. "His relationship with her is such that she can put her two cents in. She can insert what needs to be inserted as far as what's best for our state."
HE SAID HE expected them to discuss topics such as Hawaii's military and strengthening ties between Hawaii and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. "It should be fruitful," he said.
By 7:45 p.m., Bush's motorcade was moving again to his guest quarters at the Makalapa Compound at the Pacific Fleet Headquarters.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mayor Mufi Hannemann, above left, shook hands with President Bush while Lt. Gov. James Aiona gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a lei at Hickam Air Force Base yesterday. Mary Fallon and Adm. William Fallon, commander of Pacific forces, joined those who welcomed the president to Hawaii. CLICK FOR LARGE
Although there were few troops to wave hello to the president as he sped through Hickam in the early evening, the small community at Makalapa turned out in force to wave and cheer Bush as he traveled to his sleeping quarters.
This morning, Bush is expected to have breakfast with about 300 service members on Hickam. After breakfast, he is scheduled to have a briefing at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Camp Smith. Laura Bush is scheduled to meet with a group of military wives at Camp Smith.
The Bushes are then expected to leave Honolulu shortly after 9 a.m.
The president is ending an around-the-world journey that took him from Washington to Moscow to Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; and Jakarta, Indonesia, before coming to Honolulu.
The trip to Indonesia was the second for Bush and the second time that security concerns prevented him from spending the night in Jakarta. While he was there, the Indonesian press reported on large anti-American demonstrations. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world.
While Bush is spending about four more hours in Hawaii than his last trip on Oct. 23, 2003, this visit is much more subdued. During his last trip, Bush spent 12 hours on Oahu and visited the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri and Pearl Harbor Elementary School and attended two GOP fundraisers. The presidential motorcade tied up traffic as it moved around town, and protesters and supporters lined the streets of Waikiki where he attended one of the two fundraisers.
There were no organized protest last night since the president and his entourage stayed on military property.