By Stephanie Bryant, Tripler Army Medical Center Public AffairsMarch 30, 2012
HONOLULU (March 30, 2012) -- Twenty-four service members who deployed from Hawaii, who died in 2011 in Iraq or Afghanistan, were honored with a Hawaii Medal of Honor at the State Capital during a ceremony, March 28.
Among the honorees was Staff Sgt. Christopher Newman, behavioral health specialist, Department of Psychology, Tripler Army Medical Center, who was killed when his convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, Oct. 29, 2011.
Rep. Calvin K.Y. Say, house speaker for the Hawaii House of Representatives, gave the opening remarks for the ceremony and welcomed the families and military units as they honored the fallen warriors.
"We truly mourn your loss," Say said. "Every one of us owes you a great debt, one that we can never fully repay."
Hawaii State Governor Neil Abercrombie, who presided over the ceremony, spoke of the great character of the warriors and encouraged our commitment to one another.
"Those who we honor and acknowledge today are those who are rich in character," Abercrombie said. "The issues with which conflicts have ensued and (an) individual' commitments up to and including their very lives are large in scope, but our acknowledgment is individual and personal.
"Let our commitment to one another as human beings, our commitment to those core values that make up the very basis of our humanity our life, invulnerable," Abercrombie added.
Accompanying Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, Pacific Regional Medical Command and TAMC, several members of Tripler's Troop Command attended the event in support of Newman, to include Sgt. 1st Class Russell Lane, behavioral health noncommissioned officer-in-charge, PRMC, and Newman's former NCO.
"I was very, very impressed with the ceremony and really touched by the effort they put in to honoring the Soldiers and their families," Lane said. "I was not aware they gave out awards like this."
Lane said that since Newman's family could not be in attendance that the state will mail a DVD copy of the ceremony to Newman's spouse along with the award.
"Just knowing him the way I did, and that he sacrificed his life for something he believed in, I know that he would have been really proud, surprised and happy to see the amount (of) accolades," Lane said. "It is a great feeling to know that my state and my country honor (our fallen warriors) this way."