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Dedicated soldier 'one of the best'


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POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2009

The 19-year-old Hawaii Army National Guard soldier was a riding in a midsize SUV when she was killed in a one-vehicle accident last week outside of Kuwait City while traveling from one base camp to another.

The Hawaii Army National Guard reported that Spc. Cwislyn K. Walter, 19, was assigned to the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion when she was killed Thursday. This was the 29th Brigade's second death since it was called to active duty last summer for the second time.

Injured in the auto accident were Spc. Esther Cho, a network switching systems operator, who has been released from the hospital and is assigned to the Warrior Return Unit at Camp Arifjan pending return to duty in a few weeks; Sgt. 1st Class Pelias Largo J. Espinosa, a fire support specialist who is in stable condition; and Spc. Joyce Grande Guieb, a food service specialist, reported in stable condition. Espinosa and Guieb are at a military airfield pending transport to Germany.

A memorial service for the newly naturalized American citizen was scheduled for today at Camp Virginia in Kuwait, where her unit has been since Oct. 22. Walter was born Oct. 8, 1989, in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia and raised on Guam.

A Hawaii National Guard spokeswoman did not say who was driving the vehicle and did not release any other details since the incident is under investigation.

The four soldiers were traveling from Camp Virginia near Udairi Range in northern Kuwait, where the 29th Special Troops Battalion is located, to Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City when the accident occurred. Camp Arifjan is where the headquarters element of the 29th Brigade is assigned. More than 1,200 citizens soldiers from Hawaii are assigned to camps throughout Kuwait and will be there until July.

Walter enlisted in April 2007 just before graduating from Farrington High School. She was trained as a signal support systems specialist and as a human resources specialist.

“;In my 26 years of service, Spc. Walter ranks among the best that I have had the honor to have known and worked with,”; Lt. Col. Moses Kaoiwi, commander of the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, said by e-mail. “;She was young and motivated. She had initiative and produced quality work. She really had a positive impact on everyone in the battalion and brought the best out of everyone.”;

Her close friends also have comforting memories of a girl whose motto was “;just living life while I can.”;

“;We had this look we'd give to each other, a wink of an eye,”; said Spc. Lindsey Lafitaga, “;Then, bam! We'd start dancing and going crazy.”;

Spc. Leticia Timothy remembered her friend as well. “;We began as just friends and became more than sisters. This road we started together, it will last forever and ever.”;

Col. Bruce Oliveira, commander of the 29th Brigade, said: “;The soldiers of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team feel the loss of one of our own. Spc. Walter was a soldier whose goal was to always help others. As a newly naturalized citizen, she was proud of her country and believed in the contribution she was making in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her compassion and dedication for her fellow soldiers could be seen in her work. Cwislyn's time was limited in the Army, but the impact she had on hundreds of soldiers will be felt daily. The Lava Brigade will forever honor her memory.”;

Walter's awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “;M”; Device (for mobilization), Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.