DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Col. Gary Hara was formally recognized as a brigadier general yesterday after being pinned with his first set of stars by his wife, Dianne Hara, left, and Gov. Linda Lingle during a ceremony held in the governor's office. Hara comes from a long line of well-known Big Island Army National Guard soldiers.
Family full of leaders gets its first general
A promotion ceremony recognizes the service of Col. Gary Hara with the isle Army Guard
Hawaii Army National Guard Col. Gary Hara became yesterday the first brigadier general in a family with a long tradition in the Army Guard.
"Now I can lay claim to being the highest-ranking Hara in the National Guard," he joked.
Two of the four Hara brothers, Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hara and Lt. Col. Kenneth Hara, laughed yesterday as the new one-star general poked fun at them in a ceremony at the governor's office. Their brother Sgt. Maj. Dennis Hara was unable to attend the service because he is deployed in Afghanistan.
With Hara's wife, Dianne, Gov. Linda Lingle helped pin a set of silver-colored stars on the officer. Lingle called it a privilege to be a part of the ceremony.
Gary, the eldest brother, said the recognition ceremony is bittersweet in the absence of his parents. His father, Lt. Col. Henry Hara, died in November 2005, and his mother died shortly after he returned from Iraq in May 2006.
Both would be proud, said Kenneth. "It's a major milestone. Everyone's really proud."
There was no shortage of family and friends in attendance yesterday at the state Capitol. Cousins, aunts, uncles and fellow Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers crowded in the governor's Executive Chambers in a show of support.
Thanking his wife for her support, Gary Hara said, "Now she's no longer the only general officer in the house."
He said the honor marks a new chapter in his life.
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee reminded attendees that patriotism runs deep in the Hara family.
Their father, Henry, commanded one of the 29th Infantry Brigade's infantry battalions. While Kenneth and Dennis serve with the Joint Forces Headquarters, Larry is in C Company, 29th Brigade Support Battalion.
The honoree took the time to recognize his fellow soldiers.
"Today I take this opportunity to thank all of you for your service and sacrifices you have made," said Hara. "Let's remember that at this very moment there are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard personnel and civilians around the world standing in harm's way ... for our country."