Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors Hawaiʻi Purple Heart Recipients at Official Medal Presentation Ceremony

At the Oʻahu Veterans Center today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Rainbow Chapter 483 (Honolulu) in honoring twelve recipients of the Purple Heart Medal at an official presentation ceremony.

The recipients, who included veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, were awarded the Purple Heart Medal by the Army for their wounds in combat, but never received a formal presentation of their medals, as is required by Army regulations. The congresswoman presented each honoree with the Purple Heart Medal and delivered remarks about the significance of the official presentation ceremony, the high cost of war and the critical importance of caring for our veterans when they return home from war.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Those making decisions about when and where to go to war often forget who pays the high price—our veterans who return home with wounds visible and invisible, our servicemembers on active duty, and their families. The veterans we recognized today have waited more than forty years for the recognition they have earned and deserve. Today’s ceremony closes the circle for these veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much.”

Addressing the recipients and their family members, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Today we honor you with a medal that none of you wanted or asked for, but that is earned by those who sacrifice most. You stand in the ranks of people like Hawaiʻi’s Senator Daniel Inouye, President John. F. Kennedy, and so many more. We honor you, as we do them, our nation’s most prominent and distinguished heroes.”

Commentary – National Park Service & Queen Kaahumanu Highway Frontage Road

The Kona Community Development Plan has a frontage road going from Honokohau Harbor to Kona Int’l Airport alongside Queen Kaahumanu Highway. One of the segments is completed, and another should be completed within the next three months. These are being constructed by NELHA and the Kohanaiki Shores development.

Aerial View of Kaloko Fishpond at Kaloko-Honokohau National Park

The three remaining unfinished roadway segments go through Hawaii Department of Transportation, privately owned, and Kaloko-Honokohau National Park lands. One of these landowners, the National Park Service, will pose a challenge to completing the entire frontage road. They’ve stated a road can’t bisect the park because it will negatively impact the park’s resources.

I respect the National Park Service’s concerns, but extending this roadway between Kohanaiki Shores to Kealakehe Parkway could be a win-win for the park and the community. If this road is constructed, it will eventually give the community an alternative route between the airport and Honokohau Harbor.

This road will also help in traffic circulation and provide an alternative route if there is a traffic accident on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. It will also help the National Park Service by providing better accessibility to park resources and allow them to do more interpretive outreach with park visitors. This would be particularly effective if this proposed roadway follows the alignment of the Ala Mamalahoa Trail through the park.

The National Park Service’s opposition towards this roadway extension can’t be understated, but I propose these following conditions to allay their longstanding concerns. The roadway segment going through the National Park would limited to two lanes with narrow shoulders to reduce its footprint on the sensitive historical resources.  In addition, a thorough analysis of these potential alignments should be conducted. The alignment with the least impact on historical and environmental resources should be selected.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Details On Last Nights Emergency Landing at Hilo International Airport

At 10:21 pm last night Hawaii Fire Department was dispatched to an aircraft emergency. A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 carrying 276 passengers and crew from Kauai to LAX experienced smoke in the cockpit and was diverted to Hilo International Airport.

The aircraft was 2 hours into their flight when diverted. All units were on scene prior to touchdown. The plane landed safely and taxied to the terminal without further incident. The cause of smoke is under investigation.