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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 5, 2007

Eleven earn awards for achievements

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Brig. Gen. Peter Pawling salutes one of the Hawai'i Air National Guard's airmen of the year during the annual Launa Ole Awards ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base, which Gov. Linda Lingle also attended.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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These Hawai'i Air National Guard members were recognized for achievements yesterday:

  • Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Pulepule Lauofo (full-time); Senior Airman Ryan Yung (traditional or part-time).

  • Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Richard Costa (full-time); Staff Sgt. Rita Miller (traditional).

  • Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Shawna Gaskins (full-time); Master Sgt. Peter Kwok (traditional).

  • First Sergeant of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Vernon Palomares.

  • Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. Jason Matsuoka (full-time); Capt. Brian Abrigo (traditional).

  • Field Grade Officer of the Year: Maj. Mark Ladtkow (full-time); Maj. Vern Sasaki (traditional).

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    Eleven members of the Hawai'i Air National Guard were honored for outstanding achievements yesterday at Hickam Air Force Base.

    Among the actions of the Hawai'i Guard in 2006 were support operations here in the wake of last spring's floods and last fall's earthquakes. In addition, more than 100 Hawai'i Air National Guard members served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Guard plays an important role protecting Hawai'i and the nation, said Gov. Linda Lingle, who spoke at the 2007 Launa Ole awards.

    "Whether it's flying recovery equipment for Hawai'i after the Kaloko Dam disaster just about one year ago or taking supplies to Kipahulu residents on Maui who were isolated by the earthquake damage to the Pa'ihi bridge last October you are always there for us," she said.

    National Guard service often calls for personal sacrifices such as missed birthdays and anniversaries and other events, including children's school and sports activities along with being sent to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "You've made a tremendous sacrifice ... especially the sacrifice of time away from your family during your deployment," Lingle told about 300 National Guard members who attended the ceremony, staged in an F-15 hangar at the base.

    Among other missions, the Air National Guard flew Chinook helicopters last year to deliver gasoline, propane, water, generators and food to people in Kipahulu and Kaupo who were cut off when the Pa'ihi Bridge was damaged.

    "The people of Hawai'i should be reassured of the capacity of the Air National Guard in protecting its citizens," said Hawai'i Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, who joined Lingle in presenting the commendations.

    "If it were up to me, I would give you all an award."

    Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.