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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2007

Hawaii pays tribute to heroes on Veterans Day

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: Battleship Missouri Memorial salutes veterans
Photo galleryPhoto gallery: Veterans Day
 •  Filipino vets still wait for benefits
 •  'Your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble'

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

James Ward, president of the Aloha Chapter Chosin' Few, salutes as the colors are presented during the Battleship Missouri Veterans Day sunset ceremony. The service was one of many held around the country yesterday to commemorate Veterans Day, including at Punchbowl, where about 950 people turned out to pay their respects.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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"I'm really here for the guys who have fallen, the guys who are still here. You never forget."

Lenny Ho | Vietnam War veteran

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"A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check, payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his life. The currency of freedom is the blood, sweat and tears of a nation's people."

Gene Castagnetti | National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific director

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Veterans spanning five decades and six wars came leaning on their canes, riding their scooters, or were pushed in their wheelchairs yesterday to pay respects to the men and women who have given their lives in the name of freedom.

These men and women are among an elite band who marked their service yesterday morning at the Veterans Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Yesterday's service was one of many held around the nation.

The services united the many branches of the military, the many races of those who served and the many places they hail from.

"It doesn't matter what branch of service you were in or what war you fought in," said a Honolulu man who gave his name only as Pato and said he served in the Army during the Vietnam War. "We're all veterans."

In Honolulu, about 950 people stood at attention and in silence during the playing of taps and well-timed flyover in the missing man formation of four Chinook helicopters from the Hawai'i Army National Guard from Hickam Air Force Base.

In attendance yesterday were Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona; U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono; Capt. Hyung Kyu-joo, the South Korean military attache; 70 students from Asia Pacific for Security Studies; and officials from the U.S. Pacific Command.

Korean War veteran Edwin Cazinha was one of those men who paid his respects. A red sticker on his scooter tells people that he was a member of the 5th Regimental Combat Team, a Hawai'i-based unit that fought in the Korean War.

In July 1950, he left Honolulu for Korea. A month later, on Aug. 3, 1950, Cazinha was involved in his first battle.

"Today, when I go into a store, people say thank you for serving," he said. "As a group, we're getting old, so we appreciate the rites of Veterans Day ceremonies and the respect given to us."

The silence during yesterday's service was broken only by the thump-thump of the helicopters that flew overhead.

Lenny Ho remembers thinking that Vietnam in 1967 was not much different than the countryside on O'ahu until he heard the sounds of gunfire booming in the distance.

"I've been coming to these kind of services for 18 years," Ho said. "I'm really here for the guys who have fallen, the guys who are still here.

"You never forget."

That's why veterans come out each holiday in November and in May to remember what it took to preserve freedom, said Gene Castagnetti, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

"A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check, payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his life," Castagnetti said. "The currency of freedom is the blood, sweat and tears of a nation's people."

Richard "Stonecold" Castanon, who leaves in December for Iraq, said that the military saved his life. It gave him a purpose and a future for his children.

"I'm in the military to make a better world for my two kids," he said.

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.