Silence and voices pay tribute to isle soldier
POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009
While family elders, military leaders and clergy yesterday praised the accomplishments in the short life of Spc. Cwislyn Walter, her young friends and admirers expressed themselves in a mute memorial.
Funeral services were held tuesday afternoon for Cwislyn Walter a 19 year old Hawaii Army National Guard Soldier who died serving in Kuwait. 3/3/09
Dozens of youths wore black T-shirts with Walter's photograph or inscriptions dedicated to "Our Beloved Soldier" and "Our Chuu-peian Sister" at a memorial service for the 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier. She died Feb. 19 in a noncombat traffic accident in Kuwait, where she was deployed with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general, presented the State Medal of Valor to Walter's parents, Kiwis and Conception Walter, at the service attended by more than 400 people.
About 70 members of the Army National Guard and other military branches marched into the Borthwick Mortuary chapel to salute the open casket.
Lee and Gov. Linda Lingle arrived early to speak to the family before the service. The governor ordered U.S. and Hawaii state flags at government buildings flown at half-staff yesterday in honor of the young soldier.
Lingle pointed out that when Walter joined the National Guard, she was not a U.S. citizen. Walter, who was born in Chuuk (formerly Truk) in the Federated States of Micronesia, became a U.S. citizen in October.
The governor said it is a tragedy for the family and for the state "to lose someone so young, so bright and so full of promise."
Walter's great-uncle Herliep Nowell said: "She is one of many Micronesians and Pacific Islanders who have joined the military with sheer determination so that freedom, justice, peace and harmony shall prevail. It is a tragic loss for our lineage, our clan, her family, the Hawaii National Guard and most especially her unit, who shared the risk and danger along with her."
National Guard chaplain Karl Flores told the crowd, "It was her goal to get ahead. She wanted to go to college and she knew the only way was to put on the uniform."
Flores added: "Our farewell is to the shell of our fallen comrade; the soul has gone to be with her creator. Remember this family, who will need your prayers and comfort while they carry on their lives without their loved one."
Three other National Guard soldiers, all in the same vehicle with Walter, were injured in the accident on a highway between two military installations. One of them, also a woman, attended the service. She was consoled yesterday by Lingle and Lee. A National Guard spokesman declined to identify her. Another injured soldier is in the 29th Brigade hospital in Kuwait and the fourth is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Walter is also survived by three brothers and two sisters.
She will be buried Friday in Kolonia, Pohnpei, Micronesia, with full military honors.