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.