Corps breaks ground on Vietnam Pavilions Project

| May 21, 2012 | 0 Comments
Leaders from USACE-HD joined officials from the Veterans Administration, the ABMC, and others to break ground and bless the new Vietnam pavilions project at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, May 9. From left to right are: Andrew Kohashi, chief, Military Branch, USACE-HD; Jason Tanaka, project manager, USACE-HD, Mike Gangloff, contractor; Michael Conley, chief of staff, ABMC; Gene Castagnetti, director, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; Lt. Col. Douglas Guttormsen, commander, USACE-HD; Thomas Sole, director, U.S. Memorials; Louis Fung, project architect and president Fung Associates; Paul Wong, contractor and William Tam, deputy director, Hawaii DLNR.

Leaders from USACE-HD joined officials from the Veterans Administration, the ABMC, and others to break ground and bless the new Vietnam pavilions project at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, May 9. From left to right are: Andrew Kohashi, chief, Military Branch, USACE-HD; Jason Tanaka, project manager, USACE-HD, Mike Gangloff, contractor; Michael Conley, chief of staff, ABMC; Gene Castagnetti, director, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; Lt. Col. Douglas Guttormsen, commander, USACE-HD; Thomas Sole, director, U.S. Memorials; Louis Fung, project architect and president Fung Associates; Paul Wong, contractor and William Tam, deputy director, Hawaii DLNR.

Story and Photo by
Joseph Bonfiglio
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — Leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District joined officials from other agencies to break ground for the new Vietnam Pavilions Project at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, May 9.

Among those agencies were the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

In April, the COE awarded a construction contract to build the new pavilions to Innovative-Mira Joint Venture, of Aiea, the lead architect and designer for this project is Fung Associates, Inc. of Honolulu.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has been serving our nation for 107 years since 1905,” said Lt. Col. Douglas Guttormsen, commander, USACE-HD. “In that time, we’ve built a lot of projects in a lot of places across the Pacific. I would argue today that none of those projects is more significant or will have a more enduring legacy than the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific which we constructed in the late 1940s and which first opened July 19, 1949.

“Since then, we’ve had the solemn privilege to manage the construction of a number of renovations and upgrades to this monument and these hallowed grounds,” he concluded. “We’re here today to break ground and bless our latest project to honor our Vietnam-era veterans and their sacrifices.”

The project entails constructing two new pavilions located next to the two existing flag poles which flank the processional stairs of the Honolulu Memorial, one of 25 federal memorials maintained worldwide by the ABMC.

The design of the new pavilions will be compatible with the materials, features and architectural style of the existing map galleries’ terminating pavilions. One of the two pavilions will include Vietnam War battle maps to complement the existing World War II and Korean War battle maps. The other pavilion will serve as an orientation center for the Memorial.

“With the addition of these pavilions, we will appropriately honor the service and sacrifice of those who fought in Vietnam and in particular those commemorated in the memorial’s courts of the missing,” said Mike Conley, chief of staff, ABMC.

Also, the project will provide exterior illumination to the pavilions; repair and/or replace existing walkway areas, drainage and landscaping that are affected by the construction; and improve handicap accessibility to the Memorial by adding a handicap ramp to the Mauka, or mountain side, map gallery entrance, rebuilding the handicap ramps to the restrooms to meet current guidelines, and providing an accessible parking and loading stall in the upper area of the memorial.

The actual memorial inside the cemetery grounds was built by the COE and dedicated in 1966 to honor those missing in action from World War II’s Pacific theater and the Korean War and contains wall-mounted battle maps commemorating famous battles, such as the Battle of Midway. The memorial was expanded in 1980 to bear the names of 2,504 missing service members from the Vietnam War, but battle maps from the Vietnam War were not included.

“As a Vietnam veteran, I’d like to be the voice of those who can’t be here today,” said Gene Castagnetti, director, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. “Over 3.5 million American men and women served in the Vietnam campaign. Five hundred and forty three thousand actually fought in country (at its peak). Of that number, 300,000 were wounded and 58,000 were killed in action.

“This was an enormous sacrifice,” he continued, adding “and we have 2,489 names listed in our Courts of the Missing. When you look at the name of this cemetery, the Hawaiian word is Puowaina, or ‘Hill of Sacrifice,’ it is appropriate to honor the American sacrifice in that era for the noble cause of Vietnam. Today we honor those veterans and today’s ceremony shows that they are not forgotten.”

Memorial Access

During construction of the new pavilions and handicap accessibility improvements, public access to portions of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl may be limited. However, access to the Memorial chapel, columbarium, and all gravesites will not be affected.

The Committal Services, interments and burials conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration will continue without interruption.

Project completion is scheduled for November 2012.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Army Community Covenant, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *