At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, July 29, 2001


U.S. warships to make
port call in Hong
Kong next month

Calendar and Deployments
For Your Benefit

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Seven U.S. Navy warships, including the Pearl Harbor-based nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe, will make a port call in Hong Kong next month.

The USS Constellation battle group's visit Aug. 20-25 will be the second visit by U.S. warships since a Chinese jet collided with a U.S. reconnaissance plane in April, killing the pilot. Beijing then closed the Hong Kong port.

In May 1999, after NATO forces bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Beijing refused entry for 10 U.S. warships before the Americans could resume with their port calls.

The ships making the port call are the USS Constellation, an aircraft carrier; the USS Thach, a frigate; the USS Kinkaid and USS Benfold, both destroyers; the USS Rainier and USS Kiska, both supply ships; and the USS Santa Fe.

Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Coral Wong Pietsch became the first Asian-American woman general in the U.S. Army and the first female general in the history of the Army Judge Advocate General Corps when she received her star July 20.

Pietsch is the chief judge (Individual Mobilization Augmentee) for the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency in Falls Church, Va. In her civilian job, she is chief of the civil law division at Fort Shafter.

Pietsch has had more assignments as a command staff judge advocate than almost any other officer in the Army. One of her distinctions is being recalled to active duty from the Army Reserve to become staff judge advocate for one of the Army's major commands, U.S. Army Pacific, in 1996.

That occurred in February 1996, when the active Army staff judge advocate departed, and there was no replacement. Pietsch, a member of the 9th Army Reserve Command, came on active duty as the U.S. Army Pacific staff judge advocate for six months, from February to August 1996. She has more than 26 years of active and Army Reserve service.

Hawaii veterans who served in the Military Intelligence Service in World War II will share their experiences at 7 p.m. July 31 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

Former television journalist Barbara Tanabe, whose father served in the MIS, will moderate a discussion by MIS veterans Takejiro Higa, Hideto Kono and Ted Tsukiyama. The panel will follow a preview showing of a film "Uncommon Courage: Patriotism and Civil Liberties," which details the contribution of Japanese-American soldiers who served as linguists in Pacific during World War II. The 90-minute is narrated by former ABC News correspondent Ken Kashiwahara and produced, directed and written by West Coast journalist Gayle Yamada.

Moving up

>> Fort Shafter: Brig. Gen. Ronald Johnson to command the Pacific Ocean Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, relieving Brig. Gen. Randal Castro, who becomes assistant commandant of the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

>> Pearl Harbor: Capt. James Longstreet to command Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit 6, relieving Capt. James Beecham III.

Gregg K. Kakesako covers military affairs for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 294-4075.


July 31
>> Film - "Uncommon Courage: Patriotism and Civil Liberties" -- a film on the Military Intelligence Service. Japanese Cultural Center. 7 p.m.

Aug. 3-5
>>USS Crommelin, a Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile frigate, will host public tours in Hilo. 1 to 5 p.m. Hilo Harbor Pier 1. Admission is free.

Aug. 11
>> Military Intelligence Service banquet. Hawaii Convention Center. 11 a.m. Tickets $35. Contact Bob Honke 373-4146.

Aug. 12
>> Club 100 picnic, DAV facility at Keehi Lagoon Park.

Aug. 16
>> "Uncommon Courage" -- a film on Military Intelligence Service. Hawaii Public Television. 8 p.m.


U.S. Navy (Pacific Fleet)

Western Pacific
USS Asheville (SSN 758)
USS Buffalo (SSN 715)
USS Columbia (SSN 771)
USS Chicago (SSN 721)
USS Santa Fe (SSN 763)
USS Los Angeles (SSN 688)
USS Frederick (LST 1184)

Hawaiian area
USS Honolulu (SSN 718)
USS Louisville (SSN 724)
USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60)
USS Port Royal (CG 73)
USS Hopper (DDG 70)
USS Ruben James (FFG 57)
USS Tucson (SSN 770)

Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf
USS Chosin (CG 65)

U.S. Army

Malaysia, East Timor: 9th Regional Support Command, 25th Division

Bosnia, Kosovo, Germany: 25th Division, 9th Regional Support Command

Alaska, Kosrae, E. Micronesia: 84th Engineers

Thailand: US Army Pacific, 25th Division, 9th RSC

Johnston Atoll: 45th support Group

Korea, Japan: Tripler Army Medical Center

Japan: 500th Military Intelligence

Korea: 411th Engineers

Alaska, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Micronesia, Alaska: 84th Engineers

Vietnam: 25th ID

Cambodia: 45th Support Group

Singapore: 9th RSC, 41st Separate Infantry Brigade

Florida: 70th Eingineers

Malaysia: Pacific Regional Veterinary Command

England: 125th Signal

Hawaii National Guard

Japan: 298th Engineer Detachment, Army National Guard


VA accepts certified
copies of records

Question: I only have the original of my discharge certificate and have read that I must provide it to the Veterans Affairs when I file my disability claim. I don't want to let go of it. Will the VA accept a photocopy?

Answer: The VA will accept photocopies of military records from those filing benefits claims. However, an attorney or representative of a veterans organization who has completed a VA course on military records must certify the copies. Certified representatives from the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and the State Office of Veterans Services are located on the first floor of the VA's E-wing located on the Oceanside/Diamond Head end of Tripler Army Medical Center.

Q: My husband is a World War II veteran. We live on a fixed income and I am concerned about what happens when he passes away. Does the Veterans Affairs assist with any burial expenses?

A: Veterans and service members are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery at no cost. The VA will pay a $300 allowance for burial and funeral expenses for veterans who, at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a nursing home under VA contract, or a state nursing home. Costs of transportation of the remains may be paid.

The VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1,500 if the veteran's death is service-connected. In some instances, VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available grave sites.

The VA will pay a $150 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. government jurisdiction under the following circumstances: The veteran was discharged from duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been except for receiving military retired pay; or the veteran died in a VA facility.

Other burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the grave site, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. The Hawaii's National Memorial of the Pacific is full for burials, but the columbaria are available for cremated remains.

As a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran, you are eligible for interment in a national cemetery. The same holds true if the veteran is cremated and the ashes scattered. Minor children of an eligible veteran are also eligible for burial in a national cemetery if they are under 21, or under 23 and pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution. An unmarried adult child of an eligible veteran is also eligible if the child became permanently incapable of self-support before attaining the age of 21 because of a physical or mental disability.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

E-mail to City Desk

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