LIHUE — Betty Ihara of Kalaheo had an angel placed on the reception desk Friday at the Kauai Veterans Center in Lihue.
“I’m here for my brother, Kenneth Shimogawa,” said Ihara, whose ti leaf crafting skills have been well-documented. “I made this angel for all the Korean War veterans.”
Shimogawa was one of more than 100 Kauai Korean War veterans who were honored during a special ceremony Friday by the Kauai Veterans Council.
Tony Elliott, the veterans’ services counselor from the Office of Veterans’ Services, said certificates of appreciation were presented to the veterans or surviving family members of Korean War veterans.
“As America pauses to celebrate our nation’s independence, we Kauai veterans pause to observe the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War — a conflict that defined a generation and decided the fate of a nation,” Elliott said. “We remember the troops who hit the beaches when communist forces were pressing south; who pushed back, and fought their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. We remember ordinary men and women who showed extraordinary courage through three long years of war, fighting far from home to defend a country they never knew, and a people they never met.”
Brigadier Gen. Joseph Kim, making the presentations, said the efforts of the Korean War veterans brought communism “to a grinding halt.”
“When I look at you, I see my father,” Kim said. “You have paid a tremendous price. Be proud, never forget what you have done because of your deeds, you made a difference.”
Col. Ron Han, head of the state’s Office of Veterans’ Services, said similar ceremonies were held, two on Oahu and one on Maui where more than 600 certificates were presented of the more than 900 which were created by the Secretary of Defense. He said they anticipate presenting 110 certificates to Korean War veterans, each one accompanied by a copy of “Korea Reborn” a book chronicling the three-year war.
Following the presentations, which also included the Kauai Killed in Action, Elliott took time to remember the Missing in Action veterans — Sgt. Jose Balalong, Sgt. Sidney Kaui, Cpl. Mitsuyoshi Ishida, Cpl. Muneo Yaka, and Pfc. Takeshi Sasaki — all of Kauai, and all declared MIA in the Korean War.
“We assemble in honor of the service of the American veteran, and we renew our commitment to all veterans,” Elliott said. “That we will never forget their sacrifices, that we will never make little of their efforts, and that we will always be here to honor and support them.”