U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area supported an unprecedented five Veterans Day events in the community this year. “We support as many community requests as possible because the Army recognizes that without public support and understanding of the PTA mission, none of these training exercises would be possible,” said PTA Commander Timothy Alvarado.
Starting with the Hilo Veterans Day Parade on November 4, 2023, PTA participated with a float to engage with the public. PTA greatly appreciates the 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion Soldiers who helped build the PTA float and the 25th Infantry Division Soldiers who rode on the float during the parade to represent the Amy. A big mahalo also to the parade committee spearheaded by retired colonel Deb Lewis. Their hard work was rewarded with thousands of spectators watching the procession of more than 60 parade entries. Spectators were treated with military aircraft flyovers at the end of the parade which included unplanned C17s and C130s flying from the Hilo airport to PTA for the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) exercise.
On November 5, the PTA commander was the guest speaker at the Kona Hongwanji Temple Veterans Day Appreciation Service hosted by the Cub Scouts Pack 12. Alvarado’s speech focused on service. He recognized the temple members who are Veterans and their families. “Without their service and sacrifices, we would not be who we are as a nation – The land of the Free, Home of the Brave,” said Alvarado.
He compared the Scouts and their leaders with Veterans for their service to the community and the values they uphold. “The youth are our future of how our nation will be imagined and portrayed through the actions and values they take on a daily basis,” said Alvarado.
On November 7, the PTA Command Sgt. Maj. (CSM) Jessica Cho participated in a “talk story” session at the Yukio State Veterans Nursing Home in Hilo. The U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area Veterans were impressed to meet a female Soldier of such high rank. “It is always an honor to meet with Veterans and learn from them,” said Cho. “It is thanks to them for paving the way for service members today to be all they can be, as the Army motto goes.” The nursing home invited many community groups to speak with Veterans as an effort for them to learn and engage with others.
On November 10, the PTA Commander was the guest speaker at the Kilauea Military Camp Veterans Day program. The Kealakehe JROTC posted the Colors and performed a rifle drill for veterans and their families. Participants enjoyed a delicious prime rib lunch after the program. “When we honor our Veterans, that legacy and that service must be perpetuated so that our freedom remains true,” said Alvarado. Cho urged participants to share their stories with the community to perpetuate their legacy.
The final Veterans Day observation PTA participated in was the Disabled Americans Veteran’s annual ceremony at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery on Nov. 11. “We wanted an enlisted speaker because most of us are enlisted,” said organizer Don Brown. “I stand here today because of you, because you set the conditions for me to raise my right hand and serve,” said Cho. “Your legacy is our freedom, and from those currently service, just like me, we vow to guard it with all our might because although some say it's free, we know it isn't.”
We thank and honor all the Veterans that continue their service at PTA and all those in the community. PTA appreciates the invitations to be part of community engagements to forge a strong and meaningful relationships.