CG lauds advocacy role of Hawaii’s local retirees
Story and photos by
Aiko Rose Brum
Chief, Internal Communication
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — To give updates about the Army and provide bucket loads of resources and information were some objectives of Retiree Appreciation Day, or RAD, at the Nehelani, here, Oct. 6.
The most important objective, however, was to make connections and express gratitude for the more than 300 retirees who attended.
“For your continued service to the Army and the local community, even in retirement … I’m here to show my appreciation for you,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt Fuller, commander, 25th Infantry Division, and keynote speaker on behalf of Hawaii Soldiers and the Tropic Lightning Division, after colors were posted and welcoming remarks.
Fuller said retirees are stakeholders; they perform a vital task as advocates in the local community for the Army. He then provided a picture of the current role of the 25th ID, its operational approaches, the “Pacific Surge,” future initiatives and challenges.
“One of the good things that we’re working on is the Tropic Lightning Academy,” Fuller said.
He explained the academy will hone skills of leaders and Soldiers who now work in a digital environment. He said modernizing facilities and ranges within today’s standards and electronic capabilities are ongoing initiatives, along with building relationships with theater partners.
“You are a strong and steady voice for our Army. Our Soldiers here deserve the same quality training as their brothers and sisters get back home on the Mainland, and we’d like them to get their training as close as possible to their homes,” Fuller explained, regarding frequent deployments to the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, and the Republic of Korea.
At the urging of retired Lt. Gen. Allen Ono, co-chairman of the Retiree Council-Hawaii, Fuller wrapped with brief comments about his background in Special Operations Forces, noting that Col. Daniel Whitney, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, is also a Green Beret.
Presentations on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or AUV; the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; Army Emergency Relief; the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery; and health education followed, before the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, USAG-HI, color guard retired the colors.
“I reminisced about the technology compared to the time I was in,” said retired Staff Sgt. Herring Kalua, from Hilo, Hawaii, who was attending RAD for the fourth year in a row. “It’s not about me anymore; it’s about the next generation.”
Kalua reflected on the morning’s presentations, his intent to help educate others and his family’s rich history of service since World War I.
His wife, Sherry Kalua, said she also looks forward to learning what’s going on in the Army, and she enjoys getting current medical information.
“It’s an important occasion to see each other, too,” Ono said. “For these guys, another year has come and gone.
“They also want to look at the list of people who have died, because they are all friends,” Ono explained, regarding the Roll Call tribute to deceased retirees presented during RAD.
“General Fuller did an incredible job telling us what the division is doing and how the Army in Hawaii is operating,” Ono added. “Once upon a time, we were all here. It is our division, and we gave so much to it.”
“It’s nice to be appreciated; that’s why we do this,” said Rick Gajonera, chief, Retirement Services Office, Personnel Services Branch, Directorate of Human Resources, USAG-HI.