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MidWeek Staff

State Lawmakers Honor Fallen Central Warriors

Col. Frank Tate, commander, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, expresses his condolences to the family of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Viray during the Hawaii Medal of Honor Ceremony March 27 at the state Capitol. As of Dec. 31, 2012, there were 327 servicemembers with Hawaii ties who have given their lives in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division.

By SGT. DANIEL SCHROEDER

25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

Marines, airmen, sailors and soldiers solemnly entered the state Capitol March 27, their emotions evident on their faces. They gathered with state officials and civilians to honor their fallen comrades during a Hawaii Medal of Honor Ceremony.

The Hawaii State Senate and Hawaii State House of Representatives awarded the Hawaii Medal of Honor to 19 fallen servicemembers. Of the 19 fallen heroes honored, eight medals were presented to members of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division stationed at Schofield Barracks.

“In offering the Hawaii Medal of Honor to those who gathered here, in memory of those who have fallen, we recognize that they are part of us, part of our ohana,” said Rep. K. Mark Takai, chairman of the committees on Veterans, Military and International Affairs; and Culture and the Arts. “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.”

The Hawaii State Legislature created the Hawaii Medal of Honor in 2005. Since then, the state has awarded the medal to 327 servicemembers with Hawaii ties. Hawaii is one of three states that honor fallen servicemembers this way.

“I’m astounded about what the state has done for the military, Marines, soldiers, Coast Guard, everybody,” said Tom Logan, who received the Hawaii Medal of Honor on behalf of his son, Marine Cpl. Joseph Logan. “I never realized how much love they have for this country’s soldiers. It’s a feeling you can’t express sometimes.”

Members of the fallen heroes’ units attended the ceremony to show their gratitude and pay tribute to their comrades. The emotions from the guests in attendance were small compared to the emotions of the family members.

“The most difficult part of losing someone is the families with little children,” said Takai.

Marine Master Sgt. Travis Riddick’s daughter wept as she received her father’s medal.

“I hope that in the future, the children will understand how important her father is to many others and people from Hawaii,” said Takai.

Riddick’s daughter wasn’t the only relative whose emotions were evident during the ceremony.

“This ceremony put us over the top,” Logan said. “He was our G.I. Joey, that’s what we called him. They say the children emulate the parents. I didn’t realize it until all this happened what our kids were doing. They were paying attention and I’m grateful for it.”

After taking part in the ceremony, Logan was inspired to bring the honor of remembering the fallen to his home state.

“I am going to take this legislation back to Texas,” he said. “Texas has lost 613 (servicemembers), and California has even more. A lot of families are affected by the loss of a soldier. What happens is a tragedy. With losing a son or daughter, the feelings don’t go away, they stay there.”

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