In the Military
For and about Hawaii's servicemen and women

By Gregg K. Kakesako

See also: For Your Benefit

Air Force wants C-17s
at Hickam by 2005

The Air Force hopes to assign eight C-17 jet transports to Hickam Air Force Base by the fall of 2005. The planes would be part of a new Hawaii Air National Guard squadron manned by 500 people, Maj. Gen. Gary Trexler, Pacific Air Forces director of air and space operations, said this week.

He told a Chamber Commerce of Hawaii audience that construction at Hickam of facilities needed to support the jet transports should begin late next year. The cost of the project, which also includes stationing eight C-17s in Alaska, will be $152.7 million.

The Chung-Hoon, the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, was christened yesterday at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss.

The ship is named in honor of Navy Rear Adm. Gordon P. Chung-Hoon who was born here on July 10, 1910, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1934. During World War II, he won the Navy Cross and Silver Star while serving as the commanding officer of the USS Sigsbee (DD 502). In the spring of 1945, the Sigsbee assisted in the destruction of 20 Japanese planes while screening a carrier strike force off the Japanese island of Kyushu.

On April 14, 1945, while on radar picket station off Okinawa, a kamikaze crashed into the Sigsbee, reducing her starboard engine to five knots and knocking out the ship's port engine and steering control. Despite the damage, Chung-Hoon kept his anti-aircraft batteries delivering fire against the continuing enemy air attack while simultaneously directing the damage control efforts that allowed his ship to make port under her own power. Chung-Hoon retired in October 1959 and died in July 1979.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the Senate Appropriations Committee's incoming chairman, and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, said in a Jan. 6 letter to the Pentagon that failing to fund the two remaining Stryker brigades would violate a mandate in the current defense budget. It requires the funding of six Stryker brigades over the next five years.

Three of the high-tech brigades have already been funded, at a cost of about $1.5 billion each, and the Pentagon has committed to funding a fourth in fiscal 2004. However, funding for the fifth brigade at Schofield Barracks is in jeopardy.

The letter sent to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the decision to defer or eliminate funding for the other brigades "is yet another example of the disregard of the Congress, and existing law, by the senior leadership of the Defense Department."

A senior defense official said a final commitment for the fifth and sixth Stryker brigades has been deferred so that options for increasing the Stryker brigades' combat power could be considered. It is possible that beefing up the first three brigades would prove so costly that the fifth and sixth would be scrapped, the official said, but the intention is to "end up with six brigades more capable than the original design."

Stryker Brigade Combat teams are the Army's newest high-tech, versatile units designed for eventual deployment anywhere in the world within 96 hours.

Retired Army Col. Frank Steer, who is believed to be the oldest West Point graduate and World War I veteran, will celebrate his 102nd birthday today at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii's officers club at Kaneohe Bay. Gov. Linda Lingle has already proclaimed today as "Gen. Frank Steer Day," intentionally promoting him. He also has been promoted to honorary provost marshal general of the Air Force and the Army. After graduating from West Point in 1925, Steer was assigned to Hawaii in 1930, and he was appointed commander of the Hawaii Department Military Police Company after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack. Steer served in Hawaii for 18 months before transferring to Mitchell Field in Long Island, N.Y. In 1948 he was assigned to the Pentagon as provost marshal of the Air Force. After 32 years in uniform, Steer retired on June 30, 1950.

Moving Up

Pearl Harbor: Navy Rear Adm. Robert T. Conway, Jr. will become the commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group in San Diego. He is currently assigned as commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific.

Barking Sands: Navy Capt. Robert J. Connelly has assumed command of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, relieving Capt. Donald H. Wilson. Wilson will return to the staff of the commander of Navy Region Hawaii and will retire Feb. 1 after more than 37 years of service in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other
sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He can be reached can be reached by phone
at 294-4075 or by e-mail at

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