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Central // Central Oahu Coverstory
Steve Murray

Waialua Grad Kuewa Added To Heroes List

After nearly five decades of delays, airman Albert Kalahana Kuewa, a Waialua High School graduate who was killed in Vietnam, finally has taken his place of honor among Hawaii’s fallen service members.

Kuewa was honored May 15 during a dedication ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial on the State Capitol grounds. The moving ceremony included an oli and prayer by Kahu Manu Mook, national and state anthems, speeches by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Kuewa family representatives, the presentation of lei on the memorial stone by the family, and closing music by the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii. Kuewa’s name was engraved in March on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Kuewa was killed while working on the flight deck of the USS Ranger in the Golf of Tonkin. The ship was conducting air reconnaissance missions over Laos when the Haleiwa native was struck by a moving plane. Two conflicting ships logs reported different incidents, including one that incorrectly recorded Kuewa’s death as a result of the airman walking into a propeller while the carrier was idle, making his death ineligible for honors.

That Kuewa finally received his recognition was largely the result of Wahiawa resident Benjamin Ishida, who made it his duty to see his friend properly honored.

Ishida, 69, and Kuewa were shipmates aboard the Ranger, and the construction company owner and retired firefighter vowed he would find out why his friend had not received his due honor.

After decades of research and the assistance of former U.S. Sen. and World War II veteran Daniel Akaka, Ishida finally fulfilled his promise.

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