Accident kills isle soldier on Kuwait deployment


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

“;I'm just livin' life while I can,”; Cwislyn K. Walter of Kalihi wrote on her MySpace page, calling herself “;Soljah girl.”;

The 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier was killed Thursday in a vehicle accident in Kuwait, the Defense Department said.

Three other Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers were seriously injured in the accident. The circumstances of the noncombat accident are under investigation.

Walter was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

She was born Oct. 8, 1989, in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia and raised on Guam, she said on MySpace. She graduated from Farrington in 2007.

“;I'm still kind of shocked by it,”; said Jori Keremius, 19, of Kalihi. Keremius played on Farrington's varsity softball team with Cwislyn (pronounced swiss-lynn) Walter for two years.

“;I remember her making a home run and she was shocked by it. She hit the ball and she kind of stood there and then she ran,”; Keremius said. “;She was just very energetic — talked a lot, kind of wise in the mouth, but funny.”;

Walter played outfield on the team and was also a part of Island Harmony, a Polynesian dance group at Farrington. She liked reggae music.

“;I got 2 sistahz & three broz and 2 very luvin parents,”; she wrote on MySpace. Her last login was Wednesday.

Her parents were notified Thursday night of the accident. They said they are very proud of their daughter's service to her country, the National Guard said. They thanked the Guard and community for their support.

They weren't willing to talk to the media, asking for a period of private mourning.

Mara Vasai, another former teammate on Walter's softball team, said Walter was the shortest player on the team at about 5 feet, but she was fast and could hit.

“;She was the clown of the whole group,”; Vasai said. “;She was very full of life. She would always make you laugh. She was just happy all the time.”;

She said Walter had helped her with her problems and was a good listener.

“;She always made you feel warm inside. She could tell if something's wrong. She was very positive,”; she said.

“;This is a tragic loss for the Walter family and for all of us, as Specialist Walter was a member of our National Guard Ohana,”; said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, State Adjutant General. “;The entire Hawaii National Guard grieves along with the Walter family during this difficult time.

“;We have assigned a support team to assist the family and will continue to provide help and comfort in any way we possibly can.”;

The 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion left Fort Hood in Texas on Oct. 22 for Kuwait. The 1,200 soldiers from Hawaii are located at Camp Virginia and commanded by Col. Bruce E. Oliveira.

The 29th Brigade will be in Kuwait until July when the Wyoming National Guard will replace it.

Walter's death was the second in the 29th Brigade's current deployment.

Sgt. Julian Manglona of Saipan collapsed and died Oct. 9 after a six-mile run in the training area in North Fort Hood, Texas.

One Hawaii soldier assigned to the 29th Brigade, Sgt. Deyson Cariaga, was killed in combat during the brigade's first Iraq deployment in 2004.