Isle Guard unit pays tribute to Farrington grad


POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 19-year-old Farrington High School graduate who was killed in Kuwait last week in a traffic accident spent countless hours last fall studying to become a naturalized citizen.



Cwislyn K. Walter:

She passed her citizenship

test just as her unit was

preparing to go to Kuwait


That is how her colleagues and her leaders remembered Spc. Cwislyn K. Walter at a memorial service yesterday in Camp Virginia in northern Kuwait where soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team have been stationed since October.

The small camp chapel was filled to capacity with nearly 600 soldiers paying their final respects to their comrade. The traditional soldier's cross—an inverted M-16 rifle adorned with Walter's helmet, boots and dog tags—was placed at the altar along with a photograph of Walter.

Eulogizing the soldier were members of her unit, including Lt. Col. Moses Kaoiwi, 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander; Capt. Shawn Naito, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company; and her fellow soldiers Spcs. Leticia Timothy and Michael Yamaguchi. Walter was a human resources specialist assigned to the special troops battalion's headquarters company.

According to an Army release, the soldiers emphasized how significant it was that Walter became a U.S. citizen after being called to active duty in August along with 1,200 soldiers from the Hawaii Army National Guard and another 500 from the Army Reserve's 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry.

They specifically noted how she spent countless hours studying for the citizenship test while the unit was completing mobilization training at Fort Hood in Texas.

As they all expected, she passed with flying colors before her unit left for Kuwait.

Walter was born Oct. 8, 1989, in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia and grew up in Guam.

Timothy said she personally found comfort in the fact that Walter had shared her faith with her, and she believed that she was now in a better place.

At the end of the ceremony, Sgt. Christopher Tourtellot, first sergeant of headquarters company, called the final roll call.

Three soldiers involved in the accident answered; one did not.

Walter was one of four soldiers riding in a midsize sport utility vehicle that rolled over while traveling from Camp Virginia south to Camp Arifjan on Thursday night.

Spc. Esther Cho, a network switching systems operator, was treated and released and has been 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, and Spc. Joyce Grande Guieb, a food service specialist, are at medical facilities in Kuwait awaiting transfer to a hospital in Germany.

The cause of the traffic accident is under investigation. No other vehicle is believed to have been involved. The SUV the four soldiers were in was found overturned at 7:30 p.m. outside Kuwait City.

Local memorial services are pending.

Walter is the 29th Brigade's second death since it was called to active duty.