At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, February 17, 2002

See also: For Your Benefit

Schofield room to bear
2 crash victims’ names

The 25th Infantry Division plans to honor two artillery soldiers who were killed a year ago in Schofield Barracks' worst training exercise accident by naming a conference room after them.

Maj. Robert Olson and Spc. Rafael Olvera-Rodriguez were members of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, and participating in a field training exercise Feb. 12, 2001, in the Kahuku Training Area when the sling load being carried by the Black Hawk helicopter they were passengers in ran into the rotor blades of another helicopter.

A new headquarters building is planned for the division's artillery unit, and the Army plans to name a conference room in that building after the two soldiers.

Four other soldiers -- members of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment -- were killed in the same Black Hawk crash. Their names were placed on a memorial stone which was unveiled at the aviation facility on the first anniversary of the accident.

Thirteen sets of remains believed to be those of two World War II B-24 bomber crewmen who crashed in Papua New Guinea on April 16, 1944, have been recovered and will be analyzed by the U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base.

The remains were recovered by forensic and anthropological teams from the Hickam facility in the mountainous jungles in the Lae region near the village of Kunukio. One of the aircraft belonged to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bomb Group; the other was from the 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bomber Squadron.

Three Hawaii-based rear admirals have been nominated to receive their second stars. They are:

>> William D. Sullivan, who is serving as director for strategic planning and policy for the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith.

>> Richard A. Mayo, command surgeon for the U.S. Pacific Command.

>> Kirkland H. Donald, deputy chief of staff for C4I, resources, requirements and assessments for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

President Bush has proposed a $6 billion shipbuilding program next year, but Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, has said at least double that will be needed to maintain the current fleet. Total procurement "is $10 billion below the level required to sustain our Navy," Clark said in a memorandum to Navy leaders.

The Navy should be building at least 10 new ships a year to maintain its fleet of 318 ships, Navy shipbuilders maintain. But at no time in the past 10 years has the Navy met that goal, and this year the president has proposed buying only five -- one Virginia-class submarine, two DDG-51 destroyers, an LPD-17 amphibious ship and a T-AKE cargo ship.

Some lawmakers in Congress want the Pentagon to increase production of submarines to two from one a year, which would give the Navy the 60-submarine fleet that it needs. The Navy operates 53 submarines today.

In the Bush budget, the Navy got the smallest increase of any of the services, 9.5 percent, compared with 12.7 percent for the Air Force and 10 percent for the Army. It was also the only service to lose two major programs -- the DD-21 next-generation destroyer and area missile defense.

The Pentagon sent 50 ships to the Middle East in preparation for the war in Afghanistan, which represents one-sixth of the total fleet.

Gregg K. Kakesako can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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