Four careers and still going strong

By Amy PhillipsJune 2, 2023

Ben Fuata
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Ben Fuata, Pōhakuloa Training Area Bradshaw Army Airfield base operations officer directing off-loaded vehicles from the Hawaii Air National Guard C17 to designated parking area, May 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: Amy Phillips) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ben Fuata
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Ben Fuata, Pōhakuloa Training Area Bradshaw Army Airfield base operations officer speaking with Hawaii Air National Guard C17 crew member to discuss the take-off plan, May 23, 2023.v (Photo Credit: Amy Phillips) VIEW ORIGINAL

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islanders heritage month, the U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) is paying tribute to Ben Fuata, an Army veteran with a remarkable military career. Fuata dedicated 10 years to the Regular Army, primarily in the aviation field, and an additional 19 years serving in the Hawaii Army National Guard and Federal civil service. He currently remains engaged in federal civil service as a reemployment annuitant at PTA, where he serves as the base operations officer at Bradshaw Army Airfield, utilizing his extensive leadership and aviation expertise.

Fuata's military journey was marked by exceptional achievements. He graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Santa Clara Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in California and received a Regular Army commission in 1983. Throughout his active duty and reserve service, he held various leadership roles in different installations. His true passion lay in flying aircraft, and he excelled in this field. Fuata served as a test pilot for the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter, piloted CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and played a crucial role in the development of the OH-58D Armed Kiowa helicopter.

One of Fuata's notable accomplishments was initiating the armed Kiowa program at Fort Hood and being the first chosen to be part of the Army Helicopter Improvement Program (AHIP). He led aerial wire hazards reconnaissance in West Texas, expanding the aviation training area to prepare for the Apache training brigade at Fort Hood.

“"I was part of the Team that started the Apache training brigade in Fort Hood before Apaches were even popular,” said Fuata. “A lot of the aircrafts I flew are now in museums.”

After his service during Operations Desert Storm, Shield, and Comfort as an Aviation Unit Maintenance (AVUM) Company Commander for the 1/3 Aviation Attack Helicopter Battalion, Fuata transitioned to the National Guard. "As a Captain, he became a project officer responsible for the aviation restructuring program and modernization aircraft and facilities in the Hawaii National Guard."

He also piloted helicopters to support the Drug Enforcement Administration, provided law enforcement support, participated in numerous natural disaster relief missions, and aided civil defense efforts. Concurrently, he held a supervisory pilot technician role in federal civil service as the Army Aviation Support Facility Commander/State Army Aviation Officer for the Hawaii Army National Guard and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics until his retirement. In 2012, Fuata retired as a Colonel and a GS14.

Following his retirement, Fuata ventured into the civilian sector, working with Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. as a site manager responsible for helicopter maintenance for the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program at Fort Irwin, California. He later served as a Field Service Representative for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Houston, providing maintenance and engineering support to Bristol Helicopters Inc. and their clients worldwide.

His desire to be with his family led him back to Hawai’i, where he was hired as the base operations officer at Bradshaw Army Airfield, PTA in 2019. “I like being around aviation and providing mentorship to service members and staff,” said Fuata. He plays a vital role in ensuring the safe operation of the airfield, contributing to the mission's success.

Fuata's impact extends beyond his military and civilian roles. He actively volunteers in the community, serving as a life-member with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, the American Legion, the Big Island National Guard Retiree Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Hawai'i as the Department’s Jr. Vice Commander & Veteran Service Officer.

His dedication lies in assisting people. “I like to help homeless veterans, by connecting them with services and helping veterans navigate the complex VA system, including benefits counseling, entitlements, and disability claims,” said Fuata. He emphasizes the importance of supporting the families of veterans, as they often lack awareness of available benefits and assistance.

Currently, Fuata is part of a significant project in collaboration with other veterans in the community. They are working to bring the Vietnam Memorial Wall that Heals ( to Hawaii, an initiative spearheaded by Michael Doolittle, Chairman of the Hawai'i County Veterans Advisory Committee and Hawai'i Island Veterans Memorial Inc.

“The Vietnam Memorial Wall has been to all 48 states except Hawai’i and Alaska,” said Fuata. “Bringing the Wall to Hawai'i not only allows residents to pay tribute to Vietnam Veterans but also provides an opportunity for those unable to travel to Washington, D.C. to honor and find healing.”

The idea was inspired by Fuata's wife, Teresa, who attended a ceremony in 2022 where her father, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Chester Via, was inducted into the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund (VVMF) In Memory program. Teresa herself is an active community member, serving as the VFW Post 3830 Auxiliary Sr. Vice and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Hawai'i Loa Chapter.

“We are incredibly blessed to have Ben and his extensive experience and knowledge supporting the airfield operations,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area. “He is one of many examples of how veterans continue to serve the country, and help us be the Pacific’s Premier Training Center providing critical training space for our service members and Allies, as well as our County partners.”