The public is invited to pay tribute to the 28 Hawaii soldiers who died Wednesday in what is being cited by U.S. military officials as the worst military helicopter crash since 1968.

Thirty one American soldiers died Jan. 26, 2005, when their helicopter crashed. What caused the crash is still under investigation, but a spokesman for the military says a sandstorm, frequent this time of year, could be to blame. A total of 27 troops from Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station and one Navy personnel from Pearl Harbor died that day — four others in the crash who died were not based in Hawaii.

Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2005, with the public invited to bring flowers and other tokens to the Iwo Jima statue during this time.

State Rep. Cythia Thielen, R-Kailua, says she asked military leaders to open the base so people living in nearby communities and throughout Oahu who want to express their grief and support for Hawaii’s troops, can have an avenue to do so.

The public is advised to enter the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station through the main gate, which is right off of the H-3 freeway and Kaneohe Bay Drive.

”’Reach Malia Zimmerman, editor and president of Hawaii Reporter, via email at”’ mailto:Malia@hawaiireporter.com

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