Security team wins Akihito's gratitude


POSTED: Friday, July 17, 2009

The first person Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko thanked before they climbed into their private jumbo jet yesterday at Hickam Air Force Base was the Honolulu police major who headed a 70-member task force responsible for the couple's security on their two-day stay on Oahu.

Maj. Stephen Kornegay, who is in charge of the Honolulu Police Department Specialized Services Division, bowed deeply as Akihito approached.

Kornegay said the emperor wanted “;to convey his sincere appreciation to all the officers that made his visit safe and enjoyable.”;

Kornegay acknowledged that he was “;glad that everything went well.”;

He has been on the police force for 35 years and with specialized services for the past five. During his tenure with specialized services, he said, he has been involved in at least 40 visits by dignitaries.

“;This was one of the largest,”; he said. “;The largest by far is a visit by the president.”;

Also expressing his gratitude that the imperial visit was completed without any major problems was Francis Lum, who came out of retirement to help the Governor's Office deal with touchy protocol issues. Lum, as the state's former chief protocol officer, was involved in the five earlier visits by Akihito, even when he first visited the islands in 1953.

“;For me their visits are very personal,”; said Lum, who attended every function on the imperial couple's schedule.

“;When the emperor comes to Hawaii, he's very relaxed,”; Lum added.