In the Military

Gregg K. Kakesako

See also: For Your Benefit


3 Kaneohe sergeants major
from American Samoa retire

With 90 combined years of service, three Kaneohe Marines from American Samoa retired Friday with the rank of sergeant major.

Sgts. Maj. Filipo Ilaoa and Tsuipasi Suiaunoa attended the same high school in American Samoa and enlisted together in 1973. Sgt. Maj. Tunu Tupuola, who was the top enlisted man in the 3rd Marine Regiment, also joined the Marine Corps in 1973.

Brig. Gen. J.C. McAbee, commanding general of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, said Ilaoa started his career as a military policeman, became an aircraft mechanic and also served as a recruiter. His last assignment was that of sergeant major of the base at Kaneohe. His son, Nathan, is a receiver for the University of Hawaii football team.

Suiaunoa, an infantryman, fought in the 1991 Desert Storm war. He was sergeant major of Headquarters Battalion at Marine Forces Pacific at Camp Smith.

Tupuola, also an infantryman, also served in the 1991 Gulf War and won honors as a drill instructor.

Sergeant major and master gunnery sergeant are the top Marine enlisted ranks.

Brig. Gen. J.C. McAbee, commanding general of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, awarded Sgt. Maj. Filipo Ilaoa with a Legion of Merit at his retirement on Friday. Also retiring on Friday were Sgts. Maj. Tunu Tupuola and Tsuipasi Suiaunoa. All three Marines have served 30 years each.

The Air Force plans to test a new blue, gray and green tiger-stripe camouflage battle dress uniform that could eventually replace the green and brown woodlawn pattern worn by the Army soldiers. The tests will run from January to July at bases in Alaska, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Washington, Germany, California and Ohio. The Air Force's logo is interspersed throughout the new uniform. The Marine Corps also has fielded new combat fatigues featuring digitally pixilated design, as well as the Marine emblem.

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut spent two days earlier this month inspecting and servicing the buoys at Honolulu Harbor and Pearl Harbor. During its first day's operation on Aug. 4, the Walnut members pulled up buoys all around Honolulu Harbor to clean the barnacles and other assorted "sea critters" off the buoy, and they inspected the solar panels. Additionally, the crew of the 225-foot cutter verified the buoy's position, using state-of-the-art technology.

On the following day, the Walnut pulled buoys out of Pearl Harbor in preparation for upcoming dredging. The first one pulled weighed 8,500 pounds. Walnut is equipped with a 60-foot telescoping crane capable of lifting 20 tons. In addition to that buoy, Walnut's crew also lifted several 7,800-pound buoys out of the West Loch area.

Walnut's recent work was similar to what it was doing recently in the Arabian Gulf. The cutter left Hawaii Jan. 18 and returned June 28. While in the Gulf, the crew repaired buoys that hadn't been maintained in years. Walnut was one of two coalition ships stationed in Iraq to accomplish that mission and was one of six cutters in the region during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Army has announced its troop rotation plan for Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Sinai, which will begin this month when the 10th Mountain Division will replace soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, which was sent to Afghanistan in December. In February, the 10th Division will be replaced by elements of the 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks.

In Bosnia-Herzegonia, the 34th Infantry Division from the Minnesota Army National Guard will replace the 35th Infantry Division from the Kansas Army National Guard in September on a six-month peacekeeping mission. In February, soldiers from the 28th Infantry Division from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard will replace the Minnesota unit.

In the Sinai, a regiment from the Iowa Army National Guard has been patrolling the buffer zone separating Israel and Egypt. It will be replaced in January by a unit from the Michigan Army National Guard.

Moving Up

>> At Pearl Harbor, Cmdr. Michael Selby has assumed command of the destroyer USS Hopper, relieving Cmdr. Kenneth Auten.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

"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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