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Coast Guard Rescues 3 Boaters From Sunken Vessel Off Big Island

Three boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after their 48-foot sailing vessel Bobo Link sank two and a half miles off of Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Wednesday.

Three boaters were rescued by the Coast Guard after their 48-foot sailing vessel Bobo Link sank two and a half miles off of Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Jan. 18, 2017. The crew of the USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), homeported in Hilo, safely recovered the men from their life raft and transported them to Kawaihae Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Rescued are three Big Island residents:

Steven Jenkins, 48-years-old, owner and operator of the Bobo Link
Brandan Jenkins, 23-years-old
Nathan Gibson, 43-years-old

The crew of the USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336), homeported in Hilo, safely recovered the men from their life raft and will transport them to Kawaihae Harbor.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB-1336) USCG photo by PA3 Jacquelyn Zettles

“We cannot stress enough the importance of carrying and properly registering an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon which is ultimately what saved the lives of these men,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Peterson, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center. “While the men also were able to contact emergency services personnel via cell phone, we strongly recommend boaters carry a working VHF radio in the event that cell service in unavailable.”

At 1:48 p.m., watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a hit from a registered EPIRB.

Minutes later, watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu command center received a relayed call from the Hawaii County Fire Department notifying them that a sailing vessel, with three persons aboard, sank off of the Big Island.

Sector Honolulu diverted the Kiska crew already on patrol in the area to the scene where an HCFD helicopter crew was to provide oversight until they arrived.

No injuries were reported.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Hosts WWII Tuskegee Airmen

On February 3 and 4, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen and the vital role they played during World War II with special presentations by decorated WWII Tuskegee Airman Pilot Colonel Charles McGee to Hawaii’s youth and the public.

On Friday, February 3, 10 – 11 am in the theater, teachers are encouraged to bring their students, in grades 6-12, to a presentation geared towards youth entitled, “In His Own Words,” by Colonel McGee. Colonel McGee fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and holds the record for the highest three-war total of fighter combat missions of any pilot in the United States Air Force history. Colonel McGee began his military service as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee Airmen were pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country during WWII. Colonel McGee’s career in the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force spanned 30 years and 3 wars, where he flew 409 aerial combat missions. During his military career, Colonel McGee was awarded the Legion of Merit with Cluster, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal (twenty-five times).

Admission is free for this youth presentation, and funding for bus transportation to the Museum will be provided for school groups who register in advance. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly advised. To register, contact 808-445-9137 or email Education@PacificAviationMuseum.org.

On Saturday, February 4, Colonel McGee will once again be the featured speaker at a “Hangar Talk” in the theater, 11am to 12 noon. This event is open to the public.

Also present at the Hangar Talk will be WWII Tuskegee Airman Philip Baham. Baham served as a crew chief for the 337th Composite Group at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Baham is a dedicated volunteer at Pacific Aviation Museum, sharing his story with visitors as a greeter in the lobby of Hangar 37. Access to the Hangar Talk is free with Museum admission, free to Museum Members, and free for Navy League members with I.D. For more information, call 808-441-1007. Discounted tickets are available online at www.PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Prior to 1940, African Americans were prohibited from flying for the U.S. military. Even in light of extreme racism, African Americans fought to defend their country, which led to the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of WWII. Their dedication to defending the freedom of all Americans and their acts of heroism paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. Tuskegee Airmen completed more than 1,500 missions.

Both events are being held in conjunction with Black History Month.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island Field Control Tower, Hangars 37 and 79, and bullet holes in Hangar 79. Through its preservation and restoration of World War II fighter planes and accompanying artifacts in the Museum’s historic hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor shares the story of the vital role aviation played in America’s winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history. Contact: 808-441-1000; Marketing@PacificAviationMuseum.org.

Coast Guard, Local Responders Searching for Overdue Diver Off Big Island

Coast Guard and Hawaii Fire Department are searching for an overdue diver off Pohoehoe Beach, Big Island, Sunday.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew  launched and is searching the surrounding areas. The crew from USCGC Kiska (WPB 1336) is also en route to assist in the search.

The Hawaii Fire Department is also searching with helicopter, rescue boat and ground crews. An Urgent Marine Information Broadcast has been issued alerting mariners in the area to keep a sharp lookout and report any sightings to the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center.

Anyone with information that may help locate the diver is asked to contact the Sector Honolulu command center at 808-842-2600.

The initial call was made to Hawaii Fire Department by a good samaritan who is an experienced diver. The good samaritan said the man was caucasian, looked to be in his early 20s, about 150 pounds with red hair. He is reportedly wearing blue board shorts and a white rash guard with blue lettering. The man was last seen at 12:40 p.m. leaving the beach to swim out to the farthest rocks with fins, a mask, diving gear and a back up regulator.

The good samaritan watched since the diver was going out alone, did not have a float or any safety gear and noticed, based on experience, the diver only had enough air for a maximum of 80 minutes. After two hours, the good samaritan reported the diver overdue to Hawaii Fire Department who relayed the report to watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center at 2:11 p.m.

Weather conditions are currently reported as 10 mph winds with waves at 2 feet and approximately 6 miles of visibility.

Veterans Treatment Court Celebrates 22 Successful Graduates

The Veterans Treatment Court of the First Circuit (Oahu) held its fourth graduation ceremony on January 13, 2017.  Friends and supporters gathered in the Supreme Court courtroom to congratulate the six U.S. veterans who graduated from the intensive two-year program.

First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Edward H. Kubo, Jr. (left) congratulates a veteran of the program’s January 2017 graduating class. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Matthew K.H. McCarville, an Associate Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (right), served as the distinguished speaker for the First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court’s fourth graduation ceremony.

Twenty-two veterans have now successfully completed the First Circuit program since it was initiated by Judge Edward Kubo in 2013.  Over the past four years an increasing number of attorneys have heard about the Veterans Treatment Court and submitted applications for their clients to be referred to the program.  Hawaii now has Veterans Treatment Courts on both Oahu and Hawaii Island (Third Circuit).

Soldiers returning from war have demonstrably higher rates of co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, pain, and substance use disorders (SUDs) than the general population.  Often, these issues are compounded by family strife, unemployment, and homelessness, ultimately leading to incarceration.

A 2016 study published by the Community Mental Health Journal found that veterans who participate in veterans treatment courts experience significant improvement in housing, relationships and social connection, overall functioning and well-being, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health.

The Veterans Treatment Court takes a holistic approach to helping veterans by providing them with the resources and treatment they need to regain their health, obtain steady employment, and return to being law-abiding citizens so they may enjoy the freedoms they helped protect.

Each program participant has undergone extensive treatment and counseling, which includes frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances.  Many of the services rendered to these veterans were provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at no cost to the state of Hawaii.

Participants have also been assisted with finding housing and employment.  Their graduation celebrates their success in achieving a clean and sober lifestyle and a chance for a successful future with a job and other opportunities.

“I’d like to thank the staff from the U.S. Vets and Sand Island Treatment Center for their role in Veterans Treatment Court,” said Judge Edward Kubo.  “I’d like to also recognize the volunteer veteran mentors, who are an integral part of this program’s success.  These men and women understand the difficulties our program participants are facing, and walk alongside them throughout the process of recovery.  Veterans Treatment Court is a team effort, and that’s what changes lives.”

USS Michael Murphy to Begin Western Pacific Deployment

USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) is scheduled to depart Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region on Friday, Jan. 13.

USS Michael Murphy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

Michael Murphy will deploy with a crew of approximately 320 Sailors and a detachment of MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, the “Easyriders,” based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who trained for months to earn deployment certification.

“The crew has worked tirelessly in preparation for this deployment, said Cmdr. Robert A. Heely, Jr., commanding officer, USS Michael Murphy. “Team Murphy will be challenged with diverse mission sets within the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. Their resiliency will be tested, but they are up to the task and are ready to perform as part of Carrier Strike Group One.”

While deployed, the Carl Vinson CSG will remain under U.S. 3rd Fleet command and control, including beyond the international dateline which previously divided operational areas of responsibility for 3rd and 7th fleets. Third Fleet operating forward offers additional options to the Pacific Fleet commander by leveraging the capabilities of 3rd and 7th Fleets. This operational concept allows both numbered fleets to complement one another and provide the foundation of stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.

“Our forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enabling the exchange of culture, skills and tactical knowledge,” said Rear Adm. James W. Kilby, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.  Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 1 deployed from San Diego, January 5 with Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

The Carl Vinson CSG deployed with approximately 7,500 Sailors and will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.  The strike group assets will conduct bilateral exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to include anti-submarine warfare, maneuvering drills, gunnery exercises and visit, board, search and seizure subject matter expert exchanges.

Senator Kahele Invites Public to His Last Landing with Hawaii Air National Guard

Tomorrow, Sunday, January 8th 2017, Senator Kai Kahele will command his final flight back to Hilo with the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, where his flying career began in 1992 as an 18 year old student pilot at Benchmark Flight Training.

Senator Kahele has told me that this is open to the public and folks will be able to check out the C-17 in person. He is estimated to arrive at 10:00AM and will have the C-17 Globemaster III on display for the public until 11:15AM.

Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Major Kahele was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 2001. He earned his USAF pilot wings at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi in 2002 and has flown numerous aircraft in the USAF to include the T-37, T-38, F-15, C-130 and C-17. He is a veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and has accumulated over 3000+ hours of worldwide military flight time. He has commanded numerous USAF combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the USAF Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal & USAF Commendation Medal.

“Mahalo to my HIANG 204th airlift squadron ‘ohana for a great pau hana Saturday before my C17 final flight tomorrow back to where it all started…Hilo” stated Sen. Kai Kahele tonight on his Facebook page

Children, friends, family and aviation enthusiasts are invited. Participants will get to view the cockpit and the entire aircraft as well as talk to an F-22 Raptor Pilot and other C-17 pilots and loadmasters about how to become a United States Air Force military pilot and pursue a USAF career.

**Bring your kids and family to Hilo airport tomorrow morning at 10:00AM to check out the C17 Globemaster** (Old Hilo Airport Tower/Cargo Terminal by NAS Swimming Pool)

Cameras are welcome and please bring your families!

Gabbard-Cook Reintroduce Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

Today, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced the HIRE Vets Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill, which was previously introduced last Congress, passed the House with unanimous support in November 2016, but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year.

The legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today. Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. I encourage our colleagues to join us in passing this bill unanimously again to move this support for our veterans and employers forward.”

Rep. Paul Cook said, “The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a twice-deployed combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. She continues to serve as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Feature Commentary: A ship, a crew, the sea and a $7 billion fishery

U.S. Coast Guard photos and story by Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers

The sea and sky are dark. One fades into the other. The bright deck lights of a foreign fishing boat are the only horizon reference. Roughly 70-feet in length, at two miles away, the boat appears as a dot. “Set LE Phase 1,” rings out over the 1MC, the ship’s on board intercom system.
I’m aboard the mighty warship Sequoia, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam – America’s westernmost territory. Out in the Philippine Sea, standing on the buoy deck I can feel the ship roll gently under my feet as we transit toward the fishing boat.
It’s 2000 hours, the sun has long since set, but I can still feel residual heat from the metal decks and bulkheads of the ship radiate up at me. The moist sea air wraps around me in a wet bear hug and I can feel my body armor secured over my t-shirt cling to me. Droplets of sweat escape from my hairline under my helmet. We’ve been over the plan, briefed the evolution, attempted to hail the vessel master in Mandarin and English, done our risk analysis to assess complexity and overall safety and now it’s time to go.

The sound of the water is interrupted by the unmistakable mechanical hums and chirps of outboard engines. The cutter’s small boat, piloted by a boatswain’s mate, comes alongside the buoy deck prepared to take us aboard and transport us to the fishing boat.

One by one the boarding team goes over the side: four Coast Guard members and an Australian Fisheries Management Authority officer; Lydia Woodhouse. The ship is running nearly dark. A faint red glow can be seen on the bridge. The running lights of the small boat wink at me red and green. It’s my turn. Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryan Petty, who runs the deck force, stands next to the Jacob’s ladder. A flashlight in his hand with a red lens lights the flat orange rungs of the ladder as they knock against the black hull and leads to the water and the small boat more than 10 feet below.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Malone, a damage controlman and boarding team member, part of a joint boarding team from the buoy tender USCGC Sequoia (WLB-215) commence a horseshoe around the longline fishing vessel Chi Chih Ching No. 21 to conduct boarding in the Palau exclusive economic zone Sept. 5, 2016. The boardings were conducted under a U.S. Coast Guard and Palau bilateral agreement with additional support from the Marine Forces Pacific and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority.

I step gingerly onto a bitt on Sequoia’s deck just below the gunwale, adjacent to where the ladder is secured. I heave myself over the side and onto the ladder, a vice-like grip on the top of the gunwale. “Snaps, over the side!” calls Petty into his radio up to the bridge. The small boat rises and falls with the swell beneath my feet. Nearly to the bottom, the boat drops just as I let go of the ladder. The hand of a boat crewman and engineer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Peterson, grabs the loop of my backpack. “Snaps in the boat,” calls Petty.
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Coast Searching for Downed Plane Off Molokai with Three People Aboard

The search for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard near Ilio Point, Molokai, continues Saturday.

The search continues for a possible downed aircraft with three people aboard approximately 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point, Molokai, Dec. 31, 2016. Crews from the USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu, an HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point are searching the area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The search now extends up to 17 miles northeast of Ilio Point.

Missing are: Michael Childers, pilot, and two passengers John Mizuno and Whitney Thomas. They were flying in a Cessna with tail number N174LL.

Crews currently engaged in the search are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Crew of USCGC Kittiwake (WPB-87316) from Honolulu
  • Air and surface assets from Molokai Fire Department and Maui County Fire Department

Aircrews from Air Station Barbers Point have deployed three self-locating datum marker buoys to aid in the search.

Weather in the area is reported as 23 mph winds with waves at 6 to 8 feet and scattered showers.

At 7 p.m., Friday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received a call from personnel at the Honolulu Control Facility stating a Cessna with three people aboard reportedly disappeared from radar while enroute from Molokai airport to Honolulu.

More information will be released once it becomes available.

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on Historic Pearl Harbor Visit of President Obama and Prime Minister Abe

Today we saw President Obama and Prime Minister Abe stand together at Pearl Harbor. They honored the bravery and courage demonstrated in this sacred place 75 years ago. Most importantly, they both delivered a message of tolerance, reconciliation and peace. I know the people of Hawaiʻi join me and our national leaders in committing to a continued partnership that benefits our state and both nations.

— Governor David Y. Ige

President Signs Gabbard’s Talia’s Law to Strengthen Protections for Military Children

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released the statement below after “Talia’s Law” was signed into law by President Obama:

“More than a decade after Talia Williams’s tragic death, there have been more than 29,000 cases of child abuse and neglect in military homes. Until now, the same gaps in the military’s reporting requirements that failed to protect Talia and so many other military children remained. Enactment of Talia’s Law closes these gaps by requiring the same protections that exist for any other child to also protect children in military families. While this cannot right the wrongs that failed to protect Talia, Talia’s Law honors her life by helping to get military children, and their families, the support and care they need and deserve,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Tarshia Williams’s daughter Talia Williams in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States. The acknowledged role of Delilah Williams in the abuse of her stepdaughter Talia Williams helped keep her husband Naeem Williams from receiving the death penalty after he was convicted of murdering his daughter.

“My daughter went through so much pain and agony and I am so proud that Talia’s Law will prevent other kids from experiencing what my daughter went through. I am thankful and honored that my daughter’s legacy will live on through Talia’s Law, and I am grateful for everyone who played a part in getting her law passed, moving one step forward to saving a child’s life,” said Tarshia W. Hampton, Talia Williams’ mother who wrote the original concept of Talia’s Law. Tarshia brought the concept to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to introduce in Congress.

“Protection and early intervention can prevent situations like what Talia faced from happening again. By passing Talia’s Law, Child and Family Service (CFS) anticipates that all military personnel will become more empowered to follow all of the child welfare reporting mandates without fear of retaliation from their command, that child abuse and neglect will no longer be underreported, and that reporting will no longer be discouraged by the military’s chain of command,” said Amanda Pump, Program Administrator for Child & Family Service.

“Talia’s Law will create a further safety net to prevent a child from going through what happened to Talia. An issue of child abuse or neglect that goes unreported or underreported is a failure to allow for a child’s right to safety and a healthy childhood. Abuse of any household member is simply unacceptable. Talia’s Law will enforce early identification and response which is critical to the protection from further abuse. Thank you Congresswoman Gabbard for standing up for our children to assure that their safety and their basic needs are preserved,” said Ryan Kusumoto, President/CEO of Parents And Children Together.

Background: In 2005, five year old Talia Williams was beaten to death by her father, who was a soldier stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaiʻi. Leading up to her death, Talia suffered months of abuse from her father and stepmother. Despite multiple reports made to military officers, the case stayed within the military’s chain of command, and nothing was done to take Talia out of harm’s way.

Outside of the military, mandated reporters (generally, professionals that come into contact with children such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and others) are required to report any suspected cases of child abuse and neglect directly to State Child Protective Services. However, the military’s reporting requirements do not currently require the same direct reporting requirements to state authorities.

To close the communications gap that may exist between mandated reporters and those who may report to the State on their behalf, Talia’s Law:

  • Requires servicemembers and their dependents to immediately report known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect to their installation Family Advocacy Program Office. These offices are tasked with the prevention, education, intervention, and investigation of spouse and child abuse.
  • Additionally requires servicemembers and their dependents to report any known or suspected child abuse directly to State Child Protective Services, or another appropriate state agency.

In February, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Talia’s Law (H.R. 3894), introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Mazie Hirono worked to include Talia’s Law in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed into law by President Obama on December 23.

Obama Thanks Service Members From Hawaii on Christmas Day

While speaking to service members today at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, President Barack Obama said, “it has been the privilege of my life to serve as your commander in chief.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Marines and their family members during a Christmas Day visit to Anderson Hall Dining Facility, Dec. 25 back in 20012. The president and his wife spent time with Marines, sailors, civilians, retirees and community members aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Photo by Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke (released).

The president said he and Michelle know how it feels to stand alongside military families and veterans, according to remarks released by the White House today.

“This is one of our favorite things to do, because it’s one of those circumstances where we get a chance to not just say thank you to our incredible men and women in uniform but, oftentimes, we also get a chance to see some families,” the soon to be outgoing commander in chief said.

The president said he is thankful for the “unbelievable service” service members have rendered the country.

“Yesterday, I called — as I do every Christmas — some of our folks that are stationed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan and some in some very remote spots; some of them who, as we speak, are carrying out missions to defeat ISIL, carrying out missions to protect us from all manner of threat,” the president said.

“… As tough as it is to be deployed, the people here in America, back home, understand that every single day that you’re serving, you’re fighting for our freedom and fighting to keep us safe and fighting to maintain our way of life,” the president said.  “It’s impossible for us to fully repay what you’ve done and the sacrifices you make.  But at least it’s important to hear from us that what you do matters, and that we know about it, and that we’re grateful, and that we’ll stay grateful even when many of you end up being out of uniform and are veterans, and that we make sure that we’re serving you as well you served us.”

“And although this will be my last time addressing you as President, I want you to know that, as a citizen, my gratitude will remain and our commitment to standing by you every step of the way — that won’t stop,” the president said.

Drones are Prohibited on USAG-Hawaii Installations

Unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs or drones), once relegated to intelligence gathering and military activities, are now widely available to hobbyists and commercial enterprises.
Nearly half a million people nationwide have registered drones with the Federal Aviation Administration since December 2015.

In Hawaii, more than 3,000 drones have been registered as of May, according to FAA statistics.

Kualoa Ranch even hosted the World Drone Racing Championship in October, which brought operators from as far away as Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates to the islands.

But as the holidays near and more of the remote-controlled aircraft land under Christmas trees, officials are reminding the public to operate them safely and responsibly — off post!

Reason is, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii prohibits the unauthorized operation of drones over its properties. Violation of this policy on remotely controlled aircraft could result in disciplinary action.

“There is a security concern associated with it, with having drones potentially flying over and filming a military installation,” said James C. Knight, chief of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security’s Aviation Division. “And then there’s the potential of drones posing a hazard to some of (the Army’s) low-flying helicopters.”

He noted that there have been no indications of drones being used for spying over USAG-HI property, but added that some families living on base may be operating their drones for recreation without realizing they are in violation of Army policy.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor to Remain Open During Abe/Obama Visit to USS Arizona

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will remain open from 8 am to 5 pm on December 27, and has made alternate shuttle arrangements to Pacific Aviation Museum and Battleship Missouri Memorial on Ford Island. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and its accompanying parking lot and Ford Island attractions shuttle bus depot will be closed to the public on this day for the expected visit by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and United States President Barack Obama.

Guests planning to visit Pacific Aviation Museum or the Battleship Missouri Memorial on December 27 can park at Aloha Stadium and catch a free shuttle to both attractions on Ford Island. Aloha Stadium is close to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at 99-500 Salt Lake Boulevard.

Ample parking will be available at a flat fee of $7 per passenger vehicle. There will be no charge for tour buses that provide transportation to Pacific Aviation Museum or Battleship Missouri Memorial on a regular basis – required screening will take place at Aloha Stadium.

Aloha Stadium parking lot will remain open from 7:15 am to 6 pm, with the first shuttle leaving for Ford Island at 8 am, and the last departing Pacific Aviation Museum at 5 pm. Shuttles will depart Aloha Stadium parking lot every 15 minutes.

Vehicles should enter the Aloha Stadium’s Main Salt Lake Gate off of Salt Lake Boulevard. Visitor parking and the shuttle bus pick up/drop off will be in this area. Directional signs will be posted.

Visitors are encouraged not to bring any bags with them. For security reasons, no bags are allowed on the shuttle bus to Ford Island. Storage lockers will be available for a nominal fee.

For more information on the USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, visit Facebook.com/ValorNPS or NPS.gov/valr.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history. Contact: 808-441-1000; Marketing@PacificAviationMuseum.org

Security Zone Set Up in Kailua in Anticipation of President Obama’s Annual Vacation

Coast Guard personnel, federal, state and local law enforcement partners will enforce a temporary security zone in waters of Kailua Bay, Oahu, Hawaii beginning Friday, Dec. 16 and running through Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.

The temporary security zone is necessary to ensure the safety of a distinguished visitor.

The security zone will be in effect from 8 a.m. HST on Dec. 16, 2016 to 4 p.m. HST on Jan. 2, 2017, unless canceled earlier by the Captain of the Port.

The Coast Guard is coordinating with the Honolulu Police Department, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and other federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies to conduct patrols of the area under the direction of the U.S. Secret Service.

The Coast Guard has established a temporary security zone on the waters of Kailua Bay off the eastern coast of Oahu. The security zone includes all waters in Kailua Bay to the west of a line connecting two points beginning at the shoreline of Kapoho Point and thence westward at a bearing of 227 degrees true to the shoreline at the southeastern corner of Kailuana Loop in Kailua. In addition, the security zone includes the adjacent channel beginning at Kapoho Point to a point along the channel ending at the North Kalaheo Avenue Road Bridge. An orange marker will be placed in the canal to indicate the perimeter of the security zone.

Under U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 33 CFR 165.33 prohibits any unauthorized person or vessel from entering or remaining in this security zone. Any person entering the security zone without the permission of the Captain of the Port is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $88,613 for each violation or a criminal penalty resulting in imprisonment of not more than 25 years and a fine of not more than $250,000. Offending vessels may also be seized and held liable for any monetary assessments.

Notice of Upcoming Security Zone Enforcement Honolulu International Airport

The Coast Guard is enforcing security zones around all waters surrounding the Honolulu International Airport, north and south of the southern coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

These security zones will be in effect from 6 p.m. HST on Dec. 16, to 2 a.m. HST on Dec. 17, unless canceled earlier by the Captain of the Port.

These security zones extend from the surface of the water to the ocean floor. These security zones may not be entered without the prior permission from the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port of Honolulu. Entry into the zones is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port of Honolulu.

Under U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 33 CFR 165.33 prohibits any unauthorized person or vessel from entering or remaining in a security zone. Any person entering the security zone without the permission of the Captain of the Port Honolulu is subject to a penalty of not more than $88,613 for each violation or a criminal penalty resulting in imprisonment of not more than 25 years and a fine of not more than $250,000. Offending vessels may also be seized and held liable for any monetary assessments.

Passing of Native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor Survivor ‘Uncle Herb’

“Uncle Herb” Weatherwax, one of a handful of remaining local Hawaii Pearl Harbor military survivors, passed away Monday, Dec. 12.

Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) The Honorable Dr. Donald C. Winter speaks with a World War II Pearl Harbor veteran Herb Weatherwax during a gala commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet. While in Hawaii, SECVNAV also visited Sailors participating in the Rim of the Pacific exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O’Brien/Released)

According to his daughter Carrie Weatherwax, “Papa was ready and it was a strong yet peaceful death.  As with this “Greatest Generation,” Papa left this earth with dignity and grace.”

Herb Weatherwax was a frequent volunteer at the National Park Service’s Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and often attended military observances, including those hosted by Navy Region Hawaii. He attended the most recent National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Commemoration Ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Dec. 7.

According to his family it was his final wish.

In October, Weatherwax and fellow local Pearl Harbor survivor Al Rodrigues were featured in the filming at JBPHH of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s “Rock the Troops,” which airs tonight on Spike TV.

Raised on the outskirts of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, Weatherwax’s first job was with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, building roads around Mauna Kea. He also worked for Hawaiian Electric as an apprentice electrician for 30 cents an hour. It was a trade that would help him in the Army and later as a veteran.

Weatherwax was drafted into the Army in June 1941 and was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa. He was on a weekend pass in Honolulu on December 7, 1941 and heard the thunderous attack in Pearl Harbor. He was recalled to his duty station during the attack and ordered to prepare against an invasion of the islands.

“As the bus was passing above Pearl Harbor I saw the whole thing. The attack was still going on and there was confusion everywhere. The USS Arizona was enveloped in flames; the USS Oklahoma was on its side. Those who managed to escape from being trapped inside those ships were up on the hull, but the ocean was on fire from the spilled oil and fuel. Those men couldn’t even go into the water. There was smoke all over and a lot of commotion.”

In “Counting My Blessings: The Autobiography of a Native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor Survivor,” “Uncle Herb” Weatherwax tells his story of humble beginnings to life in the military during World War II, then success as a business owner.

The invasion never came, but war was declared the next day. President Roosevelt called it “a day of infamy.”

“Counting My Blessings” tracks Weatherwax’s journey during the war from the Pacific to the Atlantic, landing in Europe and facing Germany’s Siegfried Line where “the sound of strafing was like 1,000 stampeding horses.” He said his 272nd Regiment advanced into Germany and freed dying prisoners in labor camps.

In August 1945 Weatherwax was preparing to redeploy to the Pacific Theater when word came that Japan had surrendered. In the years that followed he reflected on the death and destruction he witnessed and, he said, “the lasting effects of combat experience.”

After the war, the Army veteran worked at Kwajalein and Subic Bay in the Philippines in harbor dredging and runway construction jobs before starting businesses back in Hawaii and running unsuccessfully for political office. He volunteered at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center for many years, helping promote education and understanding.

“It is up to Survivors to perpetuate the history until we are gone,” Uncle Herb said. “I am always learning from others and thought that someone might pick up one or two little things from what I have gone through.”

His family is planning a celebration of life service to be held in June.

Suspicious Device Closes Shopping Mall and Road in Kona

Hawaiʻi Island police have closed a shopping mall and part of a road in Kona because of a suspicious device.

At 7:23 a.m., police received a call about a suspicious device in front of a business at the King Kamehameha Mall in Kailua-Kona. Police evacuated the mall and formed a perimeter around the area. As a result, Kuakini Highway, from Palani Road to Kaiwi Street is closed to traffic and is expected to remain closed through the afternoon.

Personnel from the U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) are responding.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area. Police thank the public for their cooperation.

VIDEO – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard honored the 75th Anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor:

“My heart is in Hawaiʻi today. At almost this exact time, on this very day 75 years ago, the first bombs were dropped in the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 people perished on that fateful day that will forever live in infamy.

“We remember our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price, and those who answered the call to serve in the months and years that followed, including our two former Senators Inouye and Akaka, and the more than 320,000 who gave their lives in that war.

“We remember the Japanese Americans whose lives forever changed when after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were thrown into internment camps. And the brave Nisei, who in spite of these atrocities, volunteered to serve, forming the Nisei-only “Go For Broke” 442nd Infantry Regiment, serving courageously, and sacrificing greatly.

“May we never forget what happened at Pearl Harbor, the lessons learned, and the sacrifices of all who served.”

Background: Last month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reintroduced a House resolution originally authored by Congressman Takai that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and honoring the more than 320,000 men and women who gave their lives in defense of the United States during World War II.

Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park Unveil New Submarine Exhibit

Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Frederick “Fritz” J. Roegge, in partnership with Chuck Merkel, executive director of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, unveiled a new submarine exhibit in honor of the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, Dec. 6.

Rear Adm. Fredrick "Fritz" Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, addresses guests during an unveiling of a new submarine exhibit at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Dec. 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. The U.S. military and the State of Hawaii are hosting a series of remembrance events throughout the week to honor the courage and sacrifices of those who served Dec. 7, 1941, and throughout the Pacific theater. As a Pacific nation, the U.S. is committed to continue its responsibility of protecting the Pacific sea-lanes, advancing international ideals and relationships, well as delivering security, influence and responsiveness in the region. (Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael H. Lee/Released)

Rear Adm. Fredrick “Fritz” Roegge, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, addresses guests during an unveiling of a new submarine exhibit at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Dec. 7, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. The U.S. military and the State of Hawaii are hosting a series of remembrance events throughout the week to honor the courage and sacrifices of those who served Dec. 7, 1941, and throughout the Pacific theater. As a Pacific nation, the U.S. is committed to continue its responsibility of protecting the Pacific sea-lanes, advancing international ideals and relationships, well as delivering security, influence and responsiveness in the region. (Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael H. Lee/Released)

Roegge spoke to more than 150 guests, military and civilian, about the importance of the submarine force during World War II.

“Within hours of the attack, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Harold Stark ordered, ‘Execute against Japan unrestricted air and submarine warfare.’ Our submarines were the only forces able to immediately begin war patrols. They carried the battle across the Pacific and into Imperial Japanese home waters while the fleet was repaired.”

He explained that while the submarine forces made up only two percent of our entire Navy, they sank 30% of all Japanese warships, and 55% of all Japanese merchant ships sunk during the war.

“Submariners also paid the heavy price of the greatest casualty rate of any American branch of service in the war,” Roegge said. “Submariners are well-aware that the challenges of World War II produced some of our greatest successes, our greatest heroes, and our greatest sacrifices.”

In 2011 I got to tour the Submarine USS Cheyenne.

In 2011 I got to tour the Submarine USS Cheyenne.

Roegge explained the intention behind the exhibit by noting that, “It’s hard to find that important story within the existing narrative on display across the many museums and memorials that fill the horizon, and failing to highlight those details reflects a missed opportunity – not only to honor our heroes, but to share our story here at Hawaii’s most popular tourist and historical destination until today.”

Today, we begin to share that story – honoring our heroes – with a new display located in front of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, free and accessible to anyone visiting Pearl Harbor’s iconic landmarks.