Guardsmen deploy to Saudi Arabia

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Brothers Staff Sgt. Tony Honorato, left, Sgt. Chris Honorato, center, and Spec. Alvin Honorato, from left, get together after Sunday’s deployment ceremony.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Troop C, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalary Regiment, Hawaii Army National Guard, stands during the deployment ceremony on Sunday at Grove Farm Park.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Brigadier Gen. Moses Kaoiwai Jr. salutes Cpl. Kelvin Lapitan on Sunday as the deployment ceremony wraps up.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Lt. Col. John Udani smiles as he listens to remarks during the deployment ceremony on Sunday.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Specialist Chyson Soares holds the flag for Troop C, 1st Squadron, 299th Calvalry Regiment, Hawaii Army National Guard, during Sunday’s deployment ceremony at Grove Farm Park.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Staff Sgt. Bryson Taroma gets a hug from his mom, Josephine Taroma, following Sunday’s deployment ceremony for Troop C, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment, Hawaii Army National Guard, at Grove Farm Park.

The deployment of soldiers separates families, said Col. Roy J. Macaraeg.

“You, the families in the audience, sacrifice the most,” he said to the crowd of about 75 people seated under the canopy at Grove Farm Park on a cloudy Sunday morning. “The most difficult aspect is family separation.”

Soldiers are apart from spouses, children, parents, and it is a heavy burden, Macaraeg said. Graduations, anniversaries, holidays, even births, are missed.

“There are moments in time when there is a family void created by deployment,” he said.

Macaraeg paused and glanced toward the soldiers standing to his left and then back to the ohana listening to him.

“Thank you to the families for their sacrifices,” he said.

The 45-minute deployment ceremony for about 30 members of Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment, Hawaii Army National Guard, marked what will be a year-long tour. They will spend about a month training in Fort Bliss, Texas, before being deployed to Sinai, Egypt, in support of the Multinational Force and Observers, whose mission is to keep the peace between Israel and Egypt.

This is the fourth time that the unit will be deployed. It was previously deployed in Vietnam in 1968, Iraq in 2004 and Kuwait in 2008. There are some first-time deployers and some multi-time deployers.

That group includes three brothers from Kauai, Staff Sgt. Tony Honorato, 31, Sgt. Chris Honorato, 26, and Spec. Alvin Honorato, 23. They will be posted at different outposts, but will see each other while there.

“It’s going to be a family adventure,” said a smiling Tony Honorato, who previously served two deployments in Afghanistan and the Philippines.

Chris Honorato, who previously served a tour in the Philippines, said he was excited about the days ahead with his brothers.

“It’s the first time to go overseas as one,” he said. “To have them with me is a good feeling.”

Alvin Honorato said his brothers have long been role models and mentors for him.

“I’m just following in their footsteps,” he said.

Their parents are Albert and Imelda Honorato of Puhi.

“They love to serve the country,” Albert Honorato said.

“I’m so proud of them,” Imelda Honorato added.

They have a fourth son, RJ, on Oahu, who has served with the National Guard, as well. All of them were good boys growing up, their parents said.

“No problem at all,” their mom said.

“Whatever they like, we fully support,” Albert Honorato said.

He is confident his sons will be fine while overseas.

“They can handle anything,” he said.

Macaraeg shared similar comments about Charlie Troop.

“Based on what I have observed in the last year, I am proud and I am humbled by your remarkable character and dedication and your exceptional performance,” he said.

Charlie Troop supported flood recovery efforts on Kauai and Oahu after April’s epic storm, and assisted with operations on Hawaii Island dealing with the damage caused by Kilauea volcano’s current eruption.

“You have demonstrated consistently that you can accomplish any mission,” Macaraeg said. “And that’s what the Hawaii National Guard is all about. Citizen soldiers who are always answering the calls of our community, our state and our nation.”

“We are always ready, and we are always there,” he continued. “You are prepared and you are ready, and I am absolutely confident you will continue to do great things and accomplish your mission.”

Brigadier Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr. said, “Charlie Troop has show exceptional professionalism in all their mobilizations and deployments. This will be no different.”

He offered two points of advice: Soldiers, support your spouses, and spouses, support your soldiers during this separation.

“Understand what each other is going through,” he said.

He also urged the soldiers, when on duty, to know their physical limits, know their adversary and know the terrain of where they are going.

Sinai has a population of about 1.4 million. There will be tourists, residents, military and hostiles. The desert region is hot, dry and unforgiving.

“On a peace-keeping mission, it will be difficult to know who your adversary is,” he said. “Our mission is to keep the peace between Israel and Egypt. You’re going to find that they are not your adversaries. It will be terrorists and armed militias.”

Kaoiwi said their mission creates the conditions for a climate of freedom.

“Always maintain that spirit of aloha you have, and you’re not going to have any problems,” he said.

Lt. Col. John Udani will be deploying with the Troop C. He said they are devoted to strength, courage and “the greater good.”

“They have been a complete inspiration to me in every way,” he said.

Capt. William Roach said Kauai was never conquered, “and you can see that in the Charlie Troop soldiers.”

“There is nobody that is more professional and works harder and is better at their craft and is more proud to be in the Guard than the soldiers of Charlie Troop,” he said.

“They are trained, and they are ready,” Roach said.

Roach promised he and other leaders of Charlie Troop would do all they could to get the soldiers back home next year.

“We will do the hard right over the easy wrong,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Taroma received hugs, kisses and lei from his family after the ceremony.

“It’s a great feeling to get everyone together,” said Taroma, who has been in the military 14 years, after joining right out of high school. “The love and support from the community is very special to us.”

Staff Sgt. Makaiwa Gunn said the soldiers in the ceremony “are the tip of the spear in the whole Hawaii National Guard.”

“These guys are on a different level, the way they train, the way they work, the way they operate, their camaraderie — they have the strongest camaraderie between everybody,” he said.

Chaplain Colin Lau prayed that the mission would be fruitful and the soldiers would remain safe and strong.

“We may be physically apart but may ever we be closer in spirit,” he said.

5 Comments
  1. harry oyama July 23, 2018 12:49 am Reply

    Actually this deployment to Egypt shouldn’t be much of a problem since Hawaii troops are sometimes mistaken for Egyptian troops because they look similar. Sure they have problems with terrorists, but it is contained by the active service forces.

    National Guard members can never be up to the same capacity as their active duty parts, simply because they do not train constantly with the most modern equipment. How many of these 30 members actually have combat experience, not many? Their one year deployment will most likely be cut short to save the government in additional expenses like tuition waivers.


    1. Rich July 28, 2018 1:59 pm Reply

      Aloha Mr. Harry Oyama.
      Thank you for taking the time to make such lengthy comments, that means your paying attention and care of what is going on in our society.
      First of, we are not all looking like Egyptian troops considering about half of us are Caucasian, Haole is what others refer to them. If terrorists are contained then maybe 9-11 would’ve never happened, but it did and they still continue to wreak havoc all around the world. If you did not know, National Guards men and women are one of the most well trained service members. Majority of them have other jobs that they need to leave behind in order to fulfill duties as Guards men and women.
      If you haven’t figured out, I am a Guardsman and also been in active military. I can tell you that the bonds and work ethics of these Guards men and women are far more stronger than some of our active counterparts, at least from my experience. I am not going to assume what you did and did not do but if you served in the military, thank you. If not, you should try and sign up.
      Hope you have a nice day.


  2. Ted DeMarce July 23, 2018 6:28 am Reply

    May God Watch over them and their families.. Here is hoping for a happy and a safe homecoming…
    Thank you for serving and thank you again…… Ted & Mary Wenatchee, WA.


  3. Cameron Craig July 24, 2018 12:47 pm Reply

    Harry, im not going to even dignify your ethnic comment with a response because it sounds like you’re trolling, however I would like to clarify a few things that you seem illinformed on. First off plenty of these gentleman have multiple combat deployments, there are certainly a large group for whom this will be there first time down range, but that is the case when we’ve been at war for 17 years, guys get out, guys retire. As for not being as well trained or prepared as active units, I could give a list of about 1500 examples where that is just plain false…but I will only give you one…in 2016 the National Guard took first place at Best Ranger competition, first place at the Sullivan cup (best tank crew) first place at the international sniper team competition, and then 3rd place at the Gainey Cup ( best recon squad) the next year. I’m sure the Active components didn’t send their worst teams to compete at such prestigious events. As far as the”latest” equipment…I have never been either downrange or attached to an active unit for either school s, competition, or deployment and ever seen or come into contact with some piece of tactical equipment or vehicle that we either don’t have or train on, so I’m not sure what this secret squirrel gear is your referring to. As a matter of fact the Hawaii Air guard are on of only a few units active or reserve to operate the F-22, that is certainly the cutting edge of military technology. As for the ” active” units who will be there to do the “heavy lifting”…they are us, we are the unit tasked with this mission at this time for the U.S. Army. That’s what they mean when they say “activated”. I’m assuming you served as well, I’m going to assume ( and I could be wrong, as you didn’t specify) that you were probably an E4 88mike attached to a support unit in the late 80s or early 90’s and got out after 4 years, but things have changed since then and being at war for a decade. Thank you for your service


  4. Reverend Malama Robinson July 28, 2018 8:24 am Reply

    Despicable to again leave our islands undermanned in case of emergency as was shown recently with the floods and volcanos!


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