GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
A group of former Navy SEALs has rejected renaming Makalapa Neighborhood Park for a battle in Afghanistan in which 19 SEALs and special warfare soldiers died.
Park won’t laud SEALs
A group rescinds its request to name the spot for a war mission
The City Council shelved a proposal this week to name a city park near Pearl Harbor after a clandestine operation in Afghanistan that took the lives of 19 Navy and Army special warfare specialists, including a Medal of Honor recipient.
City Councilman Charles Djou had wanted to use the Memorial Day holiday to honor Pearl Harbor SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy and the other servicemen who were killed in Afghanistan three years ago, but said Wednesday the entire project is now "in a holding pattern."
The SEAL Naval Special Warfare Foundation Hawaii withdrew its support of the proposal, which would have renamed Makalapa Neighborhood Park after Operation Red Wing and Murphy, because of the park's location and condition.
For sacrificing his life to save his team in Operation Red Wing in June 2005, Murphy received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor. Of the 19 sailors and soldiers killed, five were Navy SEALs who were assigned to Pearl Harbor's SEAL Delivery Team 1.
Ron Seiple, president of the local chapter of the foundation, said Thursday his members changed their minds after they saw the park, located near Pearl Harbor and Aloha Stadium.
"We don't think the park is worthy of the sacrifices made by these men," said Seiple, a former Navy SEAL. "It's not a suitable location. It's hard to find. I used to jog on the bike path there, and I couldn't find it.
"Very few people go to that park or know where it is."
Seiple, a retired Navy captain who served two tours in Vietnam, said he was disappointed that City Councilman Romy Cachola, whose district includes the park, resisted the change.
"He wanted to keep the name of the park and only name one of the softball fields" after the military operation, Seiple said.
Seiple's group will meet before the end of the month and come up with another proposal.
Seiple said one of the possibilities is naming the bike path that starts near the Rainbow Marina at Pearl Harbor and ends near Pearlridge Center.
"A memorial could be erected along the bike path with the names of everyone as well a plaque detailing what they did," Seiple said.
"This was the most number of SEALs killed in any battle."
Initially, Djou, an Army Reserve major, proposed naming the park after Murphy, but at the request of Murphy's parents and the Aiea Neighborhood Board, the resolution was amended to only name a softball field after Operation Red Wing.