SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Just before lunch, June 23, Catherine Ballie joked with her staff at U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu North about being "short." Although she does stand around five feet, she was using short in reference to the fact that she'll retire June 30. And though she's been mentally pre-paring for this week for the past 32 years, there was one event she hadn't planned for. Ballie, along with several individuals from U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and Installation Management Command-Pacific, was honored for her exceptional service at the Honolulu-Pacific Federal Executive Board Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Waikiki, June 24. Nearly 1,000 federal workers and family members filled the Sheraton's spacious ballroom and cheered as co-workers received awards in categories such as Outstanding Leader, Supervisor of the Year, and Employer of Choice. With so many covered in lei and posing for pictures with framed certificates, the event almost seemed like a graduation. "I'm sitting on top of the world right now," Ballie said. As community director for USAG-Oahu North, Ballie works with communities outside Schofield's gates and functions as "their voice back to the garrison." In addition, she provides support to nonmilitary organizations on post such as the post exchange and commissary. Back at Schofield, June 23, a stone's throw from the Inn at Schofield Barracks, Ralph Kaleiohi was making preparations for the post's Fourth of July Spectacular celebration. Kaleiohi, who works on exterior electrical systems for the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Maintenance and Repair Branch, received the FEB award for Employee of the Year, Trades and Crafts. Kaleiohi maintains electrical systems such as lighting for streets, sports fields and Wheeler's runway, and emergency generators on Schofield, Wheeler and Helemano Military Reservation. "People don't need an electrician when the lights are on," he said, smiling, "only when they're off." In addition to routine maintenance, Kaleiohi and his crew are the first to respond when storms, such as the one on Dec. 7, 2007, knock down trees and power lines, and leave residents without electricity. Kaleiohi commented on how supportive the military community has been during crises, bringing his workers drinks and cake, and encouraging them to be safe. He also recalled one Thanksgiving Day three years ago when a power outage left one side of the street without power. Instead of cursing the loss of power, the community shared the working ovens from the other side of the street and turned the day into a potluck. "Ralph always has a positive attitude no matter what the challenge is," said Norma Sales, Kaleiohi's former supervisor. A few tables over from Kaleiohi at the luncheon, Kent Anderson, chief, DPW's Budget and Programming Branch, chatted with co-workers. Anderson received an Outstanding Mentor award for training and mentoring three individuals in DPW's Utilities Division. "He's just really patient," said Karl Santa, a mechanical engineer and one of Anderson's mentees. "He'd go out of his way to explain stuff to me, even though it took a lot of his day." Colin Watanabe, Anderson's former supervisor, said Anderson continued to mentor Santa and the other two trainees for months after he left the division. "He really showed he cared," Watanabe said. "He wanted to bring these guys up right. It's in him to do things right." On the other side of the ballroom, Terry Hanohano, a management technician at U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa, clapped as awardees crossed the stage. Hanohano received an award herself for Employee of the Year, Clerical and Assistant, which was no surprise to her boss, Lt. Col. Warline Richardson, commander, USAG-PTA. "She's my right hand, my left hand, my counselor, and sometimes my mom," Richardson said. "Her concern is genuine and she puts her heart into what she does. She takes care of all of PTA." "I'd like to think that I make some sort of difference in sending our warfighters off fully trained," Hanohano said. After having worked at USAG-PTA for the past 20 years, Hanohano didn't hesitate in revealing the best part of her job. "People," she said. "It's definitely the people." As the luncheon ended and employees flowed out of the ballroom, Cathy Ballie was one day closer to retirement. Though she hadn't planned on the luncheon, she did have a plan for her first day off, June 3-. "I'm going to wake up late and read the morning paper," she said.
Awards Rundown
Aca,!Ac Employer of Choice: USAG-HI (Col. Matthew Margotta and Bryson Jhung)
Aca,!Ac Team Excellence: The Nehelani Community Club Management Team
Aca,!Ac Supervisor/Manager of the Year: Peter Loo, DFMWR
Aca,!Ac Employee of the Year (Clerical and Assistant): Terry Hanohano, USAG-PTA
Aca,!Ac Employee of the Year (Trades and Crafts): Ralph Kaleiohi, DPW
Aca,!Ac Exceptional Community Service: Catherine Ballie, USAG-Oahu
Aca,!Ac Outstanding Leader: Col. Howard Killian, IMCOM-Pacific
Aca,!Ac Outstanding Mentor: Kent Anderson, DPW