‘Broncos,’ seniors make Memorial Day a lei day

| June 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
Linda Hirano, a Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors volunteer, left, shows Army Pfc. Vanessa Sheika how to make a lei from a ti leaf in Honolulu, May 27. The senior citizens group and Soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team made nearly 1,900 lei to place on headstones at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery for Memorial Day.

Linda Hirano, a Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors volunteer, left, shows Army Pfc. Vanessa Sheika how to make a lei from a ti leaf in Honolulu, May 27. The senior citizens group and Soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team made nearly 1,900 lei to place on headstones at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery for Memorial Day.

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division
WAHIAWA — “Bronco” Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, worked alongside seniors from the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors club to produce lei at the Wahiawa District Park, here, May 27.

The civic-minded seniors handcrafted the lei to be placed on the headstones at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery.

“Every year, we meet up during the entire month of May to create ti leaf lei and later flower lei for the Schofield cemetery,” said David Seeholzer, Rainbow Seniors vice president.

About 50 seniors begin their endeavor on the first Friday in May making basic ti leaf lei, and every Friday leading up to the last Friday before Memorial Day, Seeholzer added.

Soldiers assigned to the 325th BSB (bottom half) tie bows around lei at the Wahiawa District Park, May 27. The Soldiers worked with the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors to produce nearly 1,900 lei to be placed on the headstones at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Soldiers assigned to the 325th BSB (bottom half) tie bows around lei at the Wahiawa District Park, May 27.

Joining in
This was the first time Soldiers assigned to the 3rd BCT’s 325th Brigade Support Battalion and the 29th Bde. Engineer Bn. participated in the annual lei making.

“It’s great to see the Soldiers,” Seeholzer said. “You know we in Wahiawa see Schofield as essentially part of the community. The Soldiers are very respected by the locals. I think in large part, the locals are very respected by the Soldiers. It’s a nice symbiotic relationship, which is good for everybody.”

Pfc. Vanessa Sheika, Co. A, 325th BSB, worked alongside Linda Hirano, a Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors volunteer, to learn how to make ti leaf lei.
“It’s interesting learning actually how to make this stuff, and it’s fun,” Sheika said. “I’m honored to work with them.”

Another volunteer, Staff Sgt. Rivera Jesus, Co. A, 325th BSB, helped to tie bows on hundreds of lei and placed them inside boxes for pickup by representatives from Schofield Barracks garrison.

Jesus said he wanted to join with the members of the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors and become involved on how the local community honored Memorial Day.

“I’m honored to help out,” he said. “This is a nice experience to actually involve yourself to help the senior citizens to do this and have this as a recognition of the fallen Soldiers to celebrate Memorial Day.”

It wasn’t only currently serving members in the Army, but those who had served decades ago, who participated in the lei making event.

Richard Sato, a Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors volunteer, rolls a ti leaf that will bused a finished lei at the Wahiawa District Park, May 27. Sato was a former U.S. Army paratrooper assigned to the 11th Airborne Division at Sendai, Japan, during the Occupation of Japan in the 1940s. The lei he helped to make were placed on the headstones at the Schofield Barracks Post Cemetery on Memorial Day.

Richard Sato, a Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors volunteer, rolls a ti leaf that will bused a finished lei at the Wahiawa District Park, May 27. Sato was a former U.S. Army paratrooper assigned to the 11th Airborne Division at Sendai, Japan, during the Occupation of Japan in the 1940s.

Richard Sato, an 87-year-old Rainbow Seniors and former paratrooper once assigned to the 11th Airborne Division at Sendai, Japan, during the Occupation of Japan, had spent the month producing hundreds of ti leaf lei.

“I didn’t fire a shot in anger or anything like that. I served from 1946 to 1949,” Sato said.

He said making lei was an annual event he wouldn’t miss for the world and did his part to celebrate the lives of those who gave all.

160527-A-EL056-006When seeing the Bronco Soldiers working alongside the volunteers of the Wahiawa Rainbow Seniors, Sato said he “felt proud seeing the Soldiers working to help honor their fallen comrades on Memorial Day.”

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Observances

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