Members of the 32nd Infantry Regiment are holding their first reunion in Hawaii this week. Korean War veteran Ron Eichelberger, left, and Vietnam War veteran James "Kimo" Cacoulidis were among those who visited the USS Missouri on Thursday.

32nd Infantry
holds reunion here

It is the first time the event
has been held in the islands

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Retired Army Command Sgt. Major James "Kimo" Cacoulidis recalls seeing photos of one of his relatives standing at attention on the steps of Iolani Palace in an Army uniform.

Years later, Cacoulidis believes that his former father-in-law Segundo Andaya may have been a member of the Army's first unit organized here on Aug. 7, 1916: "Queen's Own" regiment, the 32nd Infantry Regiment.

The unit's crest has the same colors (red and yellow) as those of Liliuokalani's. In the center of the crest is a Hawaiian spear, or puela. The golden helmet at the top of the crest is an ancient Hawaiian war helmet, or mahiole.

"It's been years since I've seen those pictures, and I don't know what happened to them," said Cacoulidis, 53, as he and 80 past members of the 32nd Infantry Regiment had lunch Thursday on the fantail of the battleship USS Missouri. Cacoulidis, who graduated from Honokaa High School in 1964, joined the 32nd when it was an infantry training unit at Fort Benning, Ga.

They are here for the 32nd's first reunion in Hawaii, which will conclude with a banquet tonight at the Ala Moana Hotel. They laid a wreath at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl yesterday morning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. Other activities included a lunch and a memorial service at Schofield Barracks.

On Thursday, retired Col. Robert Jones, who received the Distinguished Service Cross during the Chosin Reservoir campaign in South Korea, helped unveil new displays honoring the 32nd at the U.S. Army Museum in Waikiki.

Retired Lt. Col. Andrew Dyckson, reunion chairman, who served with the 32nd in Korea, said for many of the World War II veterans, "this probably is their first trip to the islands since World War II."

The regiment trained here as part of the 7th Division before it joined the U.S. Pacific war effort. Its campaigns include the retaking of the Philippines to the invasion of Okinawa in 1945 where it won the nickname "Spearhead."

During the Korean War, the regiment participated in the Inchon landing on Sept. 16, 1950, and the retaking of Seoul and the Chosin Reservoir campaign.

Ron Eichelberger, 69, was drafted into the 32nd Regiment in 1953 "at the tail end of the Korean War" and joined the unit at Camp Casey in South Korea.

"I was at the DMZ for four months and then helped dig what was called 'the Kansas Line' and then moved back to Camp Casey for the winter of 1954 before we were sent home."

Eichelberger returned to Kennett Square, Pa., where he spent 43 years working for a plastics laminating company and started visiting Hawaii in 1976.

"I had a Hawaiian squad leader in Korea and worked with a Pearl Harbor survivor, and they just convinced me to move here," said Eichelberger, who finally decided to make the islands his permanent home in 1999.

After the Korean War, the unit's colors moved to Fort Benning, Fort Lewis, and finally in 1996 it was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade at Fort Drum in New York.

Since then the "Buccaneer" regiment has participated in Operation "Uphold Democracy" in Haiti in 1994 and six-month rotation as peacekeepers in the Middle East and Kosovo.

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