Generations of service

LIHUE — All veterans are equal, said Maj. Gen. Arthur “Joe” Logan, the Hawaii adjutant general, Saturday during the Veterans Day parade hosted by the Kauai Veterans Council in Lihue.

Logan said wars get differing attention but all veterans are equal, and the theme of “Honoring Generations of Service to America” is appropriate in honoring veterans who have been a part of the Armed Forces dating back to World War I.

Hundreds of people took time out of the weekend before Veteran’s Day to honor and thank veterans at the parade that snaked before an audience waving American flags and dressed in patriotic red, white and blue.

“We should contact more of the community groups,” said Cyndi Ayonon of the Mayor’s Office. “Maybe next year, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce can come out and show their support for Filipino veterans.”

Logan said it’s great for veterans to receive the appreciation and thanks from people.

“This is such a great event,” said Glenda Miyazaki who was helping with the West Kauai Methodist Church food booth. “There should be more people coming to events like this. What can we do to make people come out?”

Heralded by the convoy of Kauai Classic Cars, many of whom belong to veterans like Gilbert Barretto, Larry Kotz, Sonny Gorospe, Eldren Rabago, Bob Valencia and more, the parade featured the Jr. ROTC units from both Kapaa and Waimea high schools as well as bands from Kauai High School, the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, the Kauai all-island band, the Kapaa Middle School Ukulele Band and Chorus, and the Kapaa High School Performing Arts Department which included 34 band students, 10 color guard and 30 dancers performing under the direction of Catherine Paleka.

Bailey Bernabe, recently installed as the 2016 Miss Kauai Veteran, heralded the bevy of beauty queens. Island Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts were joined by Kauai Police Department Officer Mitchell Collier and the recent corps of Kauai Police Activities League boxers to headline the support from youth groups.

“I came to support and thank the veterans,” said 11-year-old Zayden Olivera, who waved his American flag enthusiastically as the unit from the Pacific Missile Range Facility passed his vantage point across from the Lihue Fire Station.

Representing the various Armed Forces from World War II to the current Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the grand marshals included Quentin Belles and Jiro Yukimura, father of Kauai County Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura. Jiro Yukimura witnessed the surrender of Japan, ending WWII, from aboard the navigation deck of the USS Missouri.

Royce Ebesu, recipient of the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in the Korean War, was joined by Wilbert Pereira, the commander of the Kauai Vietnam Era Veterans Association, and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Veterans Services.

Daniel Degracia represented veterans from Desert Storm, and Lorenzo Gonzales, a two-time Purple Heart recipient as a result of his tours in Afghanistan, represented veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom.

Johnette Chun, who did two tours of duty overseas as a services support specialist, represented veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The annual Veterans Day service, open to the public, will be held Friday, starting at 11 a.m. at the Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe.

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