Wednesday, March 24, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Col. Ann Testa, commander of Hickam Air Force Base,
takes part in prayers before testifying at an OHA meeting.

Hickam apologizes
for reference to
Hawaiians in
terror exercise

By Pat Omandam


The commander of Hickam Air Force Base today apologized to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaiian community at large for using the name "Hawaiian Sovereignty Group" as the name of a terrorist group during a recent base exercise.

Col. Ann M. Testa, commander of the 15th Air Base Wing, told the OHA Governmental Affairs and Sovereignty Committee this morning that it was an inexcusable mistake made by a newcomer to Hawaii who did not realize there was an established sovereignty movement here.

During the exercise, held March 8-10,military officials published the Kukini Express, an electronic-mail newsletter designed to inform Hickam's 3,500 military personnel and the rest of the base community about the training exercise..

In the March 9 issue, a brief story under the headline "Perpetrators apprehended, threat continues" reads: "A perceived threat remains for Hickam people because of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Group.

"Earlier this morning, the wing apprehended two armed Sovereignty Group members on the flight line.

"The individuals, carrying maps of the base and photos of senior leaders, caused damage to two aircraft.

"The extent of the damage is under evaluation."

Testa said the Air Force recognizes the strength of Hawaii's diversified culture and formally apologized to OHA trustees and to the wider Hawaiian community about including the name "Hawaiian Sovereignty Group" in the newsletter.

She said the Hawaiian people have always welcomed the military to the islands with aloha and that such a mistake is inexcusable.

"I know this mistake does not reciprocate that same sense of aloha," she said.

Testa said she was notified of the mistake only after the exercise was completed.

She immediately sent out an apology via e-mail to the entire base community and contacted Trustee Mililani Trask to set up a time to apologize to OHA.

Trask said she was happy with Testa's quick response, but urged her and other branches of the armed services in Hawaii to work with the Hawaiian community during any readiness training or military exercise to avoid these kinds of problems.

"I really appreciate this statement," Trask said today.

Trask said the apology will be include in OHA's monthly newspaper.

Testa told trustees there needs to be more education among the military here about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and pledged to work with OHA to get it done.

E-mail to City Desk

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