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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Hawai'i honors heroism of Pentagon police officer

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

To the burned and dazed victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack at the Pentagon, Isaac Ho'opi'i was a voice guiding them out of the smoke and destruction.

Pentagon police officer Isaac Ho'opi'i of McLean, Va., plays in Aloha Boys, a Mainland band.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Ho'opi'i, a Wai'anae High School graduate and a police officer in the Pentagon's bomb-sniffing canine unit, is credited with saving lives after the attack and was honored by Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday.

Cayetano declared yesterday "Isaac Ho'opi'i Day" in honor of Ho'opi'i's "incredible bravery and professionalism" after the attack.

In a ceremony in the governor's office, Ho'opi'i described hearing the radio call announcing the attack on the Pentagon while he was running an errand. At first, he believed it was a joke being played by someone at the communications center.

Rushing to the site of the crash, the 38-year-old Ho'opi'i said he began pulling injured people from the building and carrying them out to a grassy area outside. He ran into a pitch dark corridor near the impact area where electrical wiring dangled in the hallway and smoke from burning jet fuel surged.

"When I got as far as I could I started calling out, 'Is anybody in here?' And that's when I heard voices of people calling for help," he said. Without protective gear or an oxygen tank, Ho'opi'i said he could go no further, so he yelled for people to come to his voice.

People crawled toward his voice and the voices of other rescuers who were also working in the corridor.

"People kept on coming out of the smoke. They were pretty either badly burned or just injured, so most of them I just carried out," he said.

In all Ho'opi'i carried or guided 17 people out of the building, although three did not survive.

Ho'opi'i, his wife, Gigi, and their 9-year-old daughter, Kukana, will end their visit to Hawai'i today to return to their home in McLean, Va.