HONOLULU – They were soldiers from divergent backgrounds serving in differing capacities in the various branches of the military. While their time spent in Hawaii varied—three were keiki o ka aina—they all had strong connections to the Islands, and when their life and service to their country was cut short, Hawaii did not forget the sacrifice they made or the depth of their courage and commitment to duty.
The Hawaii State Senate and Hawaii State House of Representatives will convene in a special joint session to recognize military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The families of these fallen service members will all receive the Hawaii Medal of Honor on behalf of their loved ones.
The Special Joint Session of the Legislature is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 2 p.m. in the House Chambers.
The Hawaii Medal of Honor was created by Representative Mark Takai (D-Aiea) to recognize the heroism of Hawaii’s armed forces. It is awarded on behalf of the people of the State of Hawaii to honor those with Hawaii ties who are killed in action while serving our country as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recipients of the medal include members of the United Armed Forces, the United States Military Reserves, and the Hawaii National Guard, who were residents of the State of Hawaii, attended an educational institution in Hawaii, or were stationed in Hawaii by order of the United States Department of Defense.
As of January 20, 2014, Hawaii has lost 331 service members with Hawaii ties, who have sacrificed their lives, while in the line of duty. A listing of those service members who will be recipients of the HMOH is attached.
“The effort to identify those eligible for the medal has taken many months,” Takai said. “Working with all the branches of the military, we worked extremely hard to identify each servicemember who sacrificed their lives.”
The primary next of kin and their families for each servicemember has been invited to attend. People from across the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland, from towns like Seattle, Washington; and Kailua, Hawaii, are expected to attend.
“In offering the Hawaii Medal of Honor to those who will gather here, in memory of those who have fallen, we recognize that they are part of us . . . part of our ohana,” Takai said. “The Medal guarantees that they will never be forgotten. I hope that the children of these heroes will one day appreciate the sacrifices that their fathers and their mothers made on behalf of all of us,” Takai added.
At this ceremony, 12 Hawaii Gold Star Families who are former recipient families of the Hawaii Medal of Honor will be in attendance to once again be recognized and honored.
“We are honored and privileged to be in the presence of the families of our fallen heroes,” Takai stated. “We are truly grateful for the sacrifices that these families have made.”
The medal is the first in the country issued by a state honoring service members killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New Hampshire, Alaska and Montana have modeled their programs after Hawaii.
The Joint Session will be broadcast live throughout the state via public access television. Parking in the basement of the State Capitol will be restricted to the honorees and invited guests.