Monday, May 31, 1999

Name: Peter Hirai
Age: 32
Education: St. Louis High School, University of Hawaii
Position: Civil Defense planner, Oahu Civil Defense
Hobbies: Computers, bike riding

Army leader honored

Army Reserve Capt. Peter J.S. Hirai, an officer with the 9th Regional Support Command at Fort Shafter, is considered one of the best.

Hirai recently was honored by incoming Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki as one of 24 captains and first lieutenants with outstanding leadership ability. The Army and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation make the award annually to outstanding junior officers who best exemplify MacArthur's ideals of "duty, honor and country."

Hirai is the first reservist from Hawaii to get the award.

This is the 12th year the award has been presented. Twenty-four junior officers -- 12 from the active Army, six from the Army Reserve and six from the Army National Guard -- were recognized.

In presenting Hirai with a 23-pound bronze bust of MacArthur mounted on a wooden pedestal, Shinseki said it "underscores the fundamental importance of leadership in our organization. ... Leadership brings everything together. In times of war, many hard decisions are made through leadership. ... It is the outcome of military endeavor."

Hirai said he was both humbled and proud to be recognized. "It is really a team effort," he said, citing the support he has received during his 15 years in the Hawaii Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

"These kinds of awards are only possible," Hirai said, "because other people made me look so good. They mentored me and helped me accomplish what I have so far."

Hirai is a traditional citizen soldier serving as company commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade in charge of 120 soldiers. In his civilian capacity, Hirai is is the disaster preparedness and recovery officer for the Oahu Civil Defense.

He spent 11 years with the Hawaii Army National Guard's 487th Field Artillery before switching to the Army Reserve four years ago, when the chance for a promotion opened up.

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