Isle security steppedAmid stepped-up security at state airports and the activation of Oahu's Civil Defense Agency, reaction in Hawaii was mixed to news of U.S.-led military strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan in response to the events of Sept. 11.
up in wake
of U.S. strikes
The public's response
to the attack is sober
By Diana Leone and Leila Fujimori
"I think it is appropriate. I knew that they were coming," said Mark Thurman, a resident of Columbus, Ohio, who was in Honolulu for a National Medical Association meeting.
Pauline Badayos, a 48-year-old resident of Kihei, called word of the strikes "very sad news, very scary news."
Both spoke yesterday while awaiting flights at Honolulu Airport, where Hawaii Army National Guard troops watched over security checkpoints and security workers who patted down and screened passengers with handheld metal detectors.
"I love it," said Patricia Bastian, 45, of New York City. "I feel very safe as long as they're around."
Guardsmen will be on duty at airports in Hawaii and across the country for six months, until civilians can be trained in higher security measures.
"I feel I'm doing my part to ensure a better place for my kids and grandkids," said Sgt. Henry Pilanca Jr., one of about 150 Guard members who volunteered for airport duty in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, police, fire, emergency, transportation and infrastructure workers at Oahu Civil Defense headquarters presided over what Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris called a "state of heightened alert."
Harris, the only mayor in the state to activate a county Civil Defense system, said yesterday he took the action to be "cautious," emphasizing there was "no hint of any planned terrorist actions in Hawaii or the city."
Honolulu police spokesman Maj. Robert Prasser said the "heightened sense of awareness" Harris called for translates into "all patrol guys making extra checks on government buildings and facilities and public utilities."
Prasser echoed Harris' statement, saying there is "no credible intelligence" that Hawaii was under any particular threat.
Utility companies, already on heightened security since Sept. 11, were contacted by local authorities after yesterday's strikes in Afghanistan.
Denise DeCosta spokes-woman for the Honolulu Board of Water Supply said today that the department was put on heightened alert with all other city agencies.
Hawaiian Electric Company spokesman Fred Kobashikawa said today that his company has been on heightened alert since Sept. 11.
"With regards to any changes as a result of yesterday's incident, our company policy is not to discuss that for security reasons," he said.
"We've been in touch with local authorities, we're coordinating our efforts consistent with what local authorities are doing."
Military installations continued a policy of only informing those who need to know about security measures.
"All U.S. Pacific command forces and installations remain in an appropriate state of readiness and force protection," said Lt. Col. Stephen Barger, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command.
The Army confirmed that its Hawaii installations have increased security measures. A release yesterday advised that all military and civilian personnel should report to work as normally scheduled, but noted that Schofield Barracks' McNair Gate will have entrance-only traffic, while Foote Gate will have two-way traffic 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily beginning today.
The Army said a 100 percent Department of Defense identification card check is in progress but that post clinics, PXs, commissaries and schools will be open regular hours.
The U.S. Coast Guard also has been operating at a heightened state of alert since Sept. 11.
The announcement of the strikes in Afghanistan yesterday came as Gov. Ben Cayetano and a delegation of Hawaii officials left for Japan to promote tourism and a return of Japanese visitors to the state.
In a statement, Cayetano offered support to the Bush administration.
"It is important for every American to support President Bush as our country begins taking military action today against terrorism," he said.
U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka also voiced support for the strikes and concern for those directly involved.
"Our prayers are with our brave men and women in harm's way and our British allies," Akaka said in a statement from Washington, D.C.
In Hawaii, reaction ranged from support to fear of retaliation by terrorists.
"I think World War III just started," said Noah Carreira, 39, of Wailua Homesteads on Kauai.
Marisela Anez, 44, was among those worried about retaliation.
"We are scared, but I know everything will be OK," said Anez, who learned of the U.S. and British strikes on the Dallas-to-Honolulu leg of a family trip from Venezuela.
Another traveler, Cleve Canaday, called yesterday's actions "necessary now."
"It's a statement," the 67-year-old from Virginia said. "It shows we're not going to back down, and we're going back with our lives."
Star-Bulletin reporter Treena Shapiro and the Associated Press contributed to this report.