Army Civilian Making a Difference at Pōhakuloa Training Area

By Amy PhillipsMay 25, 2023

PTA DPW staff at KMA
Pōhakuloa Training Area Directorate of Public Works staff (L-R) Jarvis Underwood, Dale Hoopai and Michael Pakani) improved existing fire breaks and created new ones in the Keamuku Maneuver Area during the February fire started by lightning strikes. (Photo Credit: Amy Phillips) VIEW ORIGINAL

U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) has a professional and dedicated team of Army Civilians, many with Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. We celebrate Native Hawaiian and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dale Hoopai who has been working at PTA since 2013.

The North Kohala native started out as a heavy equipment operator and is now the work supervisor at the Directorate of Public Works responsible for the maintenance of more than 400 real property assets, which includes more than 100 miles of roads and fire breaks, and fencing; and supervision of 10 staff members at PTA.

Hoopai’s position is very important to the PTA mission of providing quality infrastructure and support to training units, and to those that work at PTA every day. “DPW is the heartbeat of PTA,” said Hoopai.

“One thing I really enjoy is working with the training units to provide them real-world projects so they can improve their skills,” said Hoopai. “These skills will improve their resumes and be used to apply for jobs in the civilian sector.”

A major project Hoopai has played a critical part in is adding significant infrastructure to the recycling center. It was a one-building operations when he arrived in 2013. Today, it includes the fence line, the pad for the trash compactor and the groundwork and preparation of area for the pallet chipper.

“Danny Collins and I built all of this with the equipment we had on hand,” said Hoopai.

Other major projects he and co-workers worked on include the design and installation of the cantonment electrical, drainage and sewage system; the DPW and brigade parking lots; and the extension of the Main Service Roads in the Keamuku Maneuver Area.

Hoopai enlisted in the USMC in 1979 and his first duty station was Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, and he trained at PTA extensively. He was a Field Artillery Cannoneer (MOS 0811) and served for 22 years.

“This place is special because I learned how to do almost everything here as a Marine,” said Hoopai. “My first and last training exercises were right here at PTA, and I retired here.” He also appreciates PTA’s critical training support mission to troops in the region.

During the last year of his USMC career, Hoopai was the first-ever USMC liaison assigned at PTA to coordinate training for Oahu-based units. He helped them secure billeting, training areas, provided safety and cultural briefings, and much more. Hoopai also coordinated community relations projects for Marines to give back and connect with the local community. He did this job from 1999 until he retired in 2001.

When he completed his contract with the USMC, he worked in the construction field prior to becoming an Army Civilian. PTA has benefited from Hoopai’s skills ever since, and is proud to have him as a member of the PTA’s ohana. He is one of many examples that the Army is the place where Americans with diverse backgrounds are making important contributions.

“Dale is the embodiment of an Army civilian professional and emblematic of the civilian workforce that serves at Pōhakuloa Training Area to ensure our nation’s men and women in uniform get the best possible training,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area. “Pōhakuloa is the center of gravity for Army training in the Pacific and it’s because of people like Dale. He and his team get the job done to make the mission happen. He is absolutely one of my heroes.”