Fallen Isle Servicemembers Leave Legacy Of Heroism

Sen. Michelle Kidani

Several years ago, the state Legislature authorized the award of a Hawaii Medal of Honor to memorialize the sacrifices of military service personnel from Hawaii, or personnel who were stationed at bases in Hawaii, who died in Iraq or Afghan-istan.

The medal was awarded to the families of 19 service members in solemn ceremonies at the state Capitol two weeks ago.


Image 1 of 2

Sen. Michelle Kidani

Among those recognized was U.S. Army CWO 2 Don C. Viray of Waikele.

Viray served in the 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division at Wheeler Army Airfield. He and three other Schofield soldiers died in the crash of their Black Hawk helicopter on a nighttime flight in bad weather almost exactly a year ago in southern Afghanistan.

Viray’s parents, Leodindo and Luz Viray, his sister Sherry Anne and

girlfriend Joy Pacba were on hand at the Capitol when the Hawaii Medal of Honor was presented and to hear tributes from Gov. Abercrombie and legislative leaders.

It was a pleasure to meet and host the Viray family, even under these sad circumstances, and to learn about Don’s love for his job as an active-duty helicopter pilot.

The annual Medal of Honor ceremony is a sobering reminder that the freedom we treasure is not free. The families of all the service personnel honored this year know this to be true, and we must not forget those who paid the price for our freedom.

State lawmakers from our area are hosting a Town Hall Meeting this week, and we’re hoping for a good turnout so that residents can learn about transportation issues that affect all of us.

The state Department of Transportation and city Department of Transportation Services have been invited, and we expect to hear about upgrades to the H-2 corridor, improvements to traffic along Kamehameha Highway and the possible widening of the Kipapa Gulch Bridge, and pothole and street resurfacing schedules for our residential neighborhoods. Please make time for this important community meeting at 7:30 tonight (April 10) in the Mililani High School cafeteria.

Congratulations to the seven schools in the Mililani Complex for their participation in the “Character Counts” curriculum this year. I learned a lot about this character-building program during the annual school fair a few weeks ago.

The program focuses on “six pillars” – trustworthiness, respect, fairness, responsibility, good citizenship and caring.

Since our youngsters spend so many hours on campus, our schools are places where they practice valuable life lessons they can only learn when they interact with classmates their own age.

At Mililani schools, teachers discuss the six pillars in the classroom, counselors conduct guidance lessons with students, assemblies recognize students who are good citizens, and even our high school coaches incorporate the six pillars into the way they coach or interact with their players.

The behaviors and values that “Character Counts” teaches can help to build a solid foundation for our youngsters that they will carry into their lives beyond the classroom.

Sen. Kidani can be reached at the Hawaii State Capitol, room 228, by phone at 586-7100 or email at senkidani@capitol.hawaii.gov.