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Hawaii Air National Guard KC-135 Tankers Return from Middle East Mission

Two Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, and associated personnel returned to Hawaii today following a deployment to the Middle East, where they had supported Operation Inherent Resolve.

A third tanker and additional personnel are scheduled to return later this week.  The KC-135 tankers and flight crews deployed six months ago to refuel U.S. and other coalition aircraft that are striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.  Deployment durations for individual Airmen ranged from more than two months to six months.

Aerial refueling is essential to U.S. air operations around the world.  The refueling allows fighter jets and other aircraft to remain over the battlefield longer, which allows greater support to U.S. and coalition forces fighting on the ground.   The HIANG is not releasing individual names of 203rd ARS personnel due to possible threats from ISIS and/or ISIS sympathizers.

The 203rd Air Refueling Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard.   The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Coast Guard Responding to Downed Helicopter Off Molokai

Coast Guard and Navy crews are responding to a report of a downed helicopter with two people aboard off the northwest side of Molokai, Monday evening.

Responding are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), homeported in Honolulu, is en route.
  • MH-60R Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37.

Aircrews located debris along with chemlights in the water.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Response Coordination Center received a call from the Honolulu International Airport control tower at 7:26 p.m., reporting they had lost communications with a privately owned Robinson R44 helicopter with two people aboard.

The helicopter was reported to have left Honolulu today on a day trip to Molokai and was on its way back.

Weather on scene is currently 30 mph winds out of the northeast with 12 to 15-foot seas.

USS Preble, USS Halsey to Depart for Deployment

The guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) will depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment, Oct. 16.

In this file photo, USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Preble (DDG 88), front and rear, and USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) steam in formation during a training exercise in August. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Robyn B. Melvin)

Preble, with embarked helicopter detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, and Halsey will join the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), and guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) for a routine deployment to conduct maritime security, forward presence, and theater security operations in the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.

“The U.S. Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of CSG 9. “After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Preble last deployed from March to October of 2015. This is Halsey’s first deployment with TRCSG.

“The crew has done a lot of hard work to prepare ourselves for deployment with the strike group,” said Cmdr. David Reyes, Halsey’s commanding officer. “Team Halsey is confident and focused on accomplishing the mission that we have successfully trained for. We are ready to answer all bells.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) deployment is an example of the U.S. Navy’s routine presence in waters around the globe, displaying commitment to stability, regional cooperation and economic prosperity for all nations. Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment, Oct. 6, to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd 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.

Hawaii Joins Multistate Court Brief Opposing Ban on Transgender Individuals in the Military

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s plans to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

Click to read brief

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorney generals state that since adopting open service policies, “there is no evidence that it has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by Attorney General Chin for Hawaii, other states joining in today’s brief include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the amicus brief is attached.

Response to Grounded Vessel Off Honolulu Continues

Responders continue work, Friday, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf.

Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides after removing about two thirds of the the fuel aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

“We are working diligently with the salvage team and our partners to ensure a safe and deliberate response,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “The safety of the public and the environment remain our top priority. We have removed about two-thirds of the fuel aboard significantly reducing the pollution threat. Due to the tides and incoming weather we have transitioned to the towing evolution to take advantage of our best window for removal of the vessel prior to the arrival of stronger winds, surf and swells this weekend.”

The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides.

Roughly 3,000 gallons of fuel was removed by the salvage team before operations were suspended Thursday. Approximately 1,500 gallons remain.

Further assessment by the salvage team Thursday revealed the initial amount of fuel aboard to be 4,500 total gallons of diesel, less than previously reported. No pollution has been sighted in the water or on shore.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are 11 mph with waves of up to 3 feet with a long south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to degrade through the weekend. Weather for Oahu is forecast as 25 mph winds with wind waves to 6 feet, but the vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

Responders Work to Remove Fuel, Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu

Responders are working to lighter all potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu.“The safety of the public is our primary concern as we work with our state partners and responsible party to address the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and captain of the port. “I want to thank our state and federal partners who worked with us to affect a safe rescue of the crew and continue to work with us on the response. The Coast Guard is also investigating the cause of the grounding.”

An incident management team has been established. The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party and commercial salvors to mitigate the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel. The salvage team is stabilizing the vessel with anchors and will attempt to lighter the vessel fully before dark Wednesday with the intent to remove it from the reef during the next optimum high tide, currently forecast for late morning Thursday.

Approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils and four marine batteries are reported aboard.

A safety zone has been established and is being patrolled by Coast Guard crews. The vessel is about 1,000 feet offshore of Kaimana Beach. The zone extends 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

The Coast Guard is working with NOAA’s marine mammal protection division, sanctuaries division, Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Fisheries and DLNR to minimize impact to any marine mammals. DLNR’s divisions of Aquatic Resources, Boating and Ocean Recreation and the HEER and DOH are assisting in evaluating and minimizing risks to aquatic resources from the grounding and salvage operations and potential fuel spills. No marine mammals have been impacted. Coast Guard survey crews will walk to the beaches as an additional impact assessment tool.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crew was released to Customs and Border Protection personnel for further action.
The Pacific Paradise a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. The vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa and they were en route to the commercial port of Honolulu. No injuries or pollution are reported. Weather at the time of the incident was not a factor.

Coast Guard, HFD Rescue 20 Fishermen From Aground Vessel Off Honolulu

Twenty fishermen were transported to shore from an aground vessel less than a half mile off Honolulu early Wednesday morning.

 

Honolulu Fire Department Jet Ski crews transported fishermen from the vessel to a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium for further transport to awaiting emergency responders at Ala Wai Harbor. A Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew hoisted two of the fishermen and the master of the vessel and transported them to Honolulu airport.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received three reports of the 79-foot commercial fishing vessel Pacific Paradise grounded off Diamond Head near the Outrigger Canoe Club Channel Tuesday night. They responded by directing the launch of response assets.

The RB-M crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu arrived on scene at 11:48 p.m. Tuesday followed by an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point at midnight. HFD Jet Ski, boat and shore crews also arrived on scene.The Pacific Paradise is homeported in Honolulu and the vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa. No injuries were reported.

The vessel is carrying a maximum of 13,000 gallons of diesel as well as assorted lube and hydraulic oils. No pollution has been reported. Further evaluation will be done after first light.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding. Responders will work with the owner to assess damage and develop a salvage plan.

Weather at the time of the incident was reportedly winds at 11 mph, seas 1-foot or less with partly cloudy skies.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Hawaii Air National Guard Supports Hurricane Maria Relief Mission

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort.    The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (17 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort. The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (18 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.
Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Lee Jackson)

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.   “Puerto Rico is suffering through a disaster of epic proportions.  The people there lack electricity, food, water and fuel. The people of Hawaii will do everything we can to assist our fellow Americans while they work to recover from this horrible devastation”.

The C-17 crew has been tasked with flying first to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, where they will pick up relief supplies and additional personnel before heading to Puerto Rico.   They anticipate flying multiple missions, possibly including some to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was hit by not only by Hurricane Maria but also by Hurricane Irma earlier in September.

The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard.   The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Pearl Harbor Welcomes USS Chicago to New Homeport

The Pearl Harbor submarine community welcomed the crew and families of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) to Hawaii following a homeport change from Guam, Sept. 28.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Sept. 28, 2017) Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a change of homeport from Guam. Chicago steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises while based in Guam over the past five years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton)

“The crew and I were sad to leave Guam, but at the same time we’re excited to see our new home and start the next chapter for Chicago,” said Cmdr. Brian Turney, commanding officer of the submarine. “We are very happy to finally be in Hawaii and reunited with our families.”

Shifting a boat from one port to another can be a complicated task involving, families, Sailors and many civilian and military organizations working together, and Chicago was no different.

“It took a lot of planning and communication across many organizations to accomplish this change of homeport,” said Turney.

Turney thanked the Chicago’s Ombudsman Kalyn Kasten for her hard work ensuring families were taken care of during the transition.

“I just wanted to make sure all the families were squared away,” said Kasten. “That meant ensuring things like their pay was up to date, and they were met at the airport by someone.”

Kasten also said that while she loved Guam, she was excited to be in Hawaii and try new activities.
Chicago is scheduled for a maintenance period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Once complete, the boat will return to the fleet ready to support the nation as one of the most advanced submarines in the world.

Turney noted how effective the Chicago has been in recent operations while maintaining a robust schedule.

“Since 2012, Chicago served as the tip of the spear in Guam,” said Turney. “She steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises.”

Now that the boat has arrived in Pearl Harbor and the focus of the crew will shift to work in port and capitalizing on local training opportunities.

Chicago was commissioned September 27, 1986, and is the Navy’s 34th Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. Measuring 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Chicago has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Chicago is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The submarine is now assigned to Submarine Squadron 7 headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Hawaii Receives $2.7 Million to Improve Veterans Cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai

On Friday Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the State of Hawaii will receive over $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to improve veterans’ cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai.

“Our veterans’ cemeteries honor the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their eligible loved ones at the end of their lives,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Hawaii’s veterans have long advocated for needed repairs and improvements at cemeteries across the state, and the funding announced today meaningfully recognizes the sacrifice Hawaii veterans made for their country.”

“We’re very appreciative of the support for these important cemetery improvement projects from our Congressional and State Leaders and especially from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration,” said Ronald Han, Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services. “These significant enhancements will continue to improve the quality of our cemeteries for those Veterans and their eligible loved ones who served a grateful nation.”

As part of the grant funding, Maui Veteran Cemetery will receive $1.3 million to support the raising, realigning, and cleaning of 1,225 headstones, as well as the restoration of 25,600 square feet of turf.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery II-Hilo will receive $870,000 for the construction of a new maintenance building, entry gate with fencing, a flag assembly area, landscape, and supporting infrastructure.

Lanai Veterans Cemetery will also receive $582,000 for the construction of a new water system, as assembly area, 800 linear feet of fence, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Collectively, the projects will serve 54,300 veterans and their families.

Statement From Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, released the following statement, Sept. 25.

Adm. Scott Swift

I have been informed by the Chief of Naval Operations that I will not be his nominee to replace Adm. Harris as the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. In keeping with tradition and in loyalty to the Navy, I have submitted my request to retire. I do so with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.

Submitting this request now is done with an abundance of respect and admiration for the CNO and his leadership, as well as for the Chairman and Secretary of Defense as both of them face the challenge of selecting someone to step into the leadership role Adm. Harris has filled with such distinction over the last three years.

I have not requested a retirement date as there is much work to be done here in the Pacific area of responsibility.

Whether my timeline of remaining service is six weeks or six months, I will fill that time with the energy of an Ensign and the wisdom drawn from the 140,000 Sailors who report for duty every morning in the Pacific Fleet.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Hosts 3,000 Visitors at Annual Living History Day

In Partnership with Smithsonian Museum Day Live!

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor brought America’s WWII history to life at its annual all day Living History Day, September 23. More than 3,000 visitors attended the annual historical celebration event.

The event was held in affiliation with Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live!, providing free admission to those who presented a Museum Day Live! ticket, downloaded free from the website.

This year’s event recognized the role of film and photography in documenting and preserving the events of WWII. A special screening of “Finding KUKAN” was held in the Museum’s theater, followed by a question and answer session with the documentary’s filmmaker, Hawaii resident Robin Lung. “Finding KUKAN” is an award-winning documentary that uncovers the forgotten story of Hawaii resident Li Ling-Ai, the uncredited female producer of “KUKAN,” an Academy Award-winning color documentary about WWII China that has been lost for decades.

Other themed activities included demonstrations on how to preserve WWII-era and family photos, as well as the process of colorizing black and white photographs; a scavenger hunt throughout the Museum to find famous images from WWII from around the globe; costumed interpreters including WWII pilots, and swing dancers who conducted swing dance demonstrations with the public; displays and presentations by local students; and open cockpits. Canon USA, Inc. was also on-site to loan cameras and offer photography workshops for visitors.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. It is a sacred battlefield, America’s aviation battlefield. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island 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 the winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Hawaii Receives First Sentinel-Class Coast Guard Cutter

The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) arrived in Honolulu Friday becoming the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters stationed in Hawaii.

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) arrives to their new Homeport in Honolulu, Sept. 22, 2017. The Oliver Berry is the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters to be stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

The cutters are designed to patrol coastal regions and feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from the stern. The Oliver Berry is the first of three Honolulu-based FRCs that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands.

The cutter is named after Chief Petty Officer Oliver Fuller Berry, a South Carolina native and graduate of the Citadel. He was a highly skilled helicopter mechanic working on early Coast Guard aircraft. Berry was also one of the world’s first experts on the maintenance of helicopters and served as lead instructor at the first military helicopter training unit, the Rotary Wing Development Unit which was established at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in 1946. He also helped develop the helicopter rescue hoist.

Lt. j.g. Peter Driscoll, executive officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) waves as the cutter arrives for the first time at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Sept. 22, 2017. There will be three fast response cutters stationed at Base Honolulu by the spring of 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

Berry had an extensive career spanning much of the globe. He was involved in a helicopter rescue out of Newfoundland that earned him a commendation and the Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II. In this case, Berry was able to quickly disassemble a helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, which was then flown to Gander, Newfoundland, in a cargo plane where he then reassembled it in time to find and rescue 18 survivors of a crash aboard a Belgian Sabena DC-4 commercial airliner.

The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The FRCs are designed for missions including search and rescue; fisheries enforcement; drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; and national defense. The Coast Guard took delivery of Oliver Berry June 27 in Key West. The crew then transited more than 8,400 miles (7,300 nautical miles) to Hawaii.

There will be three fast response cutters stationed here at Base Honolulu by the spring of 2019. These cutters with their improved effectiveness in search and rescue will make the waters around the main Hawaiian Islands a much safer place for recreational boaters and users of the waterway. They greatly improve our on water presence with each providing over 7,500 operational hours, a 40 percent increase over the 110-foot patrol boats.

A commissioning, scheduled to be held Oct. 31, will be presided by Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander. Also in attendance will be the cutter’s sponsor Susan Hansen, distant cousin of Oliver Berry.

House of Representatives Honored to Host French Legion of Honor Presentation to World War II 442nd Veterans

The Hawaii House of Representatives was honored today to host the presentation of the French Legion of Honor decoration to three Nisei veterans of US Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team for their service during World War II.

Rep. Mark M. Nakashima (from left), Futao Terashima, Vice Speaker Della Au Belatti, Dale Tateishi holding a photo of his father Tetsuo Tateishi, Harold Zenyei Afuso, and Rep. Scott Y. Nishimoto.

The veterans: Harold Aenyei Afuso, 442nd RCT, 2nd Battalion, H Company; Tetsuo Tateishi (posthumously) 442nd RCT, 100th Battalion, A Company; and Futao Terashima, 442nd RCT, 3rd Battalion, I Company; were presented their medals by Guillaume Manan, Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii.

“The House of Representatives and Speaker Scott K. Saiki are so happy that our chamber could serve as the venue to honor these brave men,” said Vice Speaker Della Au Belatti. “The Legion of Honor is France’s highest award and it recognizes the bravery and sacrifice that these men made to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today.”

The 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team was comprised of Japanese Americans, most of them from Hawaii. The men volunteered and fought in Europe during the war, becoming the most highly decorated unit in the history of the United States for its size and length of service.

Representatives Scott Y. Nishimoto and Mark M. Nakashima also attended the event and presented lei to the honorees.

Informational Briefing on Hawaii’s Planned Response to Potential Regional Military Threats

In light of recent concerns regarding North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Senator Clarence Nishihara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs will be holding an Informational Briefing on contingencies and planned responses to potential regional military threats to the State on Thursday, September 21, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the State Capitol Auditorium.

Representatives from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency will be providing a presentation on preparation and planning efforts being conducted between the counties and other Federal and State agencies and departments.
To view the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_PSM_09-21-17_INFO_.HTM

USS Cheyenne Holds Change of Command Ceremony

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) held a change of command ceremony at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 14.

In 2011 I was invited aboard the USS Cheyenne for a tour.

Cmdr. John T. Gonser relieved Cmdr. John W. Stafford as the commanding officer of Cheyenne and its crew.

Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander, Submarine Group Seven, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and praised Stafford for his achievements and dynamic leadership during his three-year tenure.

“Cmdr. Stafford achieved success because he gets out of the way and lets the officers, chief petty officers and crew do their jobs,” said Correll. “Our very best commanding officers, such as John here, know that their job is to really know their Sailors, and to help every member of their crew be successful by putting them in situations where their strengths are magnified.”

Under Stafford’s leaderships, the crew of the Cheyenne earned the 2015 Squadron Seven Engineering “E” award, 2016 Battle Efficiency “E” award and the 2016 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in battle efficiency competition.

Stafford thanked the members of the Cheyenne crew, his family, the support on the waterfront and her namesake city.

“Thank you to the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” said Stafford. “One of my biggest regrets was not making it to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but all the crew members, who did attend, remarked at the love the city has for its submarine. Thank you to the patriots of middle America.”

During the ceremony, Stafford received a Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service.

As Gonser assumed command, he praised his new crew for the incredible opportunity to continue carrying out his duty to uphold the reputation and demands of the Cheyenne.

“This ship and crew have an impressive history and reputation,” said Gonser. “While we should take pride in being part of this legacy, here is my challenge to you, and my promise to you. Together we will serve our country whenever and wherever our nation’s security demands and live to make those who came before you proud of us.”

Following his relief, Stafford will report to commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was the last of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines to enter service in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned Sept. 13, 1996. Cheyenne measures more than 360-feet long and weigh more than 6,000 tons when submerged.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognized for Service and Contributions to the National Guard

Yesterday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) received the Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). The award was presented at the 139th General Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, KY in recognition of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s distinguished legislative contributions to the National Guard.

“I’m truly grateful for the privilege of serving in the Hawaii Army National Guard, and in Congress, where in both capacities, I am focused on the safety and security of the people of Hawaii and our country.

“As we are witnessing the devastation being left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, thousands of National Guard soldiers and airmen from across the country are responding to the rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. These are every day Americans who have civilian jobs, are going to school, raising families, yet who maintain constant readiness and willingness to stand up at a moment’s notice to respond to disasters here at home, and to protect the nation when duty calls. I humbled to receive this award and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, will continue to do my best every day to honor those who serve our country and make sure they have what they need to continue serving the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

“Congresswoman Gabbard joins the ranks of exceptional Hawaii elected officials, like U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, who’ve worked diligently for the National Guard not just within their state but throughout the nation. Congresswoman Gabbard is the quintessential Soldier-Statesperson who ensures the National Guard continues to be Ready and Relevant within our States and the Nation,” said Major General Arthur “Joe” Logan, Hawaii’s State Adjutant General.

Governor Ige Visits with Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Members Heading to Texas on Hurricane Harvey Relief Mission

A Hawaiʻi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam early this morning as part of the nation’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (16 Airmen in total) will initially fly to Memphis International Airport in Tennessee, from where they will transport relief supplies to the hurricane-damaged areas around Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. The Hawaiʻi Air National Guard received the request for assistance from the National Guard Bureau yesterday afternoon and was prepared to depart just after dawn today.

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaiʻi National Guard leadership were on hand to see the flight crews and maintenance personnel off at Hickam Field.

“I’m very proud of our Hawaiʻi National Guard Airmen who were able to generate this mission on very short notice,” said Gov. Ige. “Hawaiʻi stands with our brothers and sisters in Texas and I know the crew will be bringing the Aloha Spirit to a lot of people who are in great need right now.”

The C-17 has been tasked with transporting relief supplies such as generators, tactical shelters, medical supplies and field kitchens from National Guard units from other states. They anticipate they will be flying multiple missions and the return date has not yet been determined. The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard. The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.