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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hawaii honors 28 who sacrificed all

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A Hawaii Medal of Honor sits at the Capitol before 28 were presented in recognition of those who lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait.

Photos by NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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They came from Texas, Wisconsin, New York, Florida, Mississippi and even the Pacific nation of Palau.

Their only common denominator was the loss of a loved one in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait.

For the fifth year in a row, the state Legislature recognized service members with Hawai'i ties who died in operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom with a Hawai'i Medal of Honor.

Yesterday, 28 who made the ultimate sacrifice were singled out by name and two tolls of a ship's bell. Thirteen were in the Army, 12 were Marines, two were in the Navy, and one was in the Air Force.

One Marine died in training for an Afghanistan deployment.

As the presentations were made by Gov. Linda Lingle and other officials, the sadness was barely checked.

Chandler Hoskins received the koa-framed medal on behalf of her husband, Marine Corps Sgt. Jay Hoskins, as she juggled 18-month-old Tristen and her mother held 2-month-old Jay Wyatt.

Jay Hoskins never got to meet his younger son.

The 24-year-old Kāne'ohe Bay Marine from Paris, Texas, was killed on Aug. 6, 2009, along with two other Hawai'i Marines when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Farah province, Afghani-stan.

The Marine's mother-in-law, Tydette Tisdell, who was keeping an eye on young Tristen yesterday, said after the ceremony that the loss has been very difficult.

"It's very hard to see your daughter suffer so much," she said. "I have two grandsons who will never see their Dad. It's sad. But I also think that he was an amazing man and he was doing what he believed in."

Tisdell added, "I appreciate Hawai'i doing this (Medal of Honor ceremony). This was nice."

Krista Meinert Edquist flew in by herself Monday from Wisconsin to receive the Hawai'i Medal of Honor for her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob Meinert, and was scheduled to fly out again last night.

"I know that Jake would want me to do everything possible" to recognize his service, she said.

Meinert, 20, was killed Jan. 10 when he stepped on a landmine in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. He was with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines out of Kāne'ohe Bay.

Edquist brightened only when talking about her "very funny, very smart" son's personality.

"I got such amazing letters from his (fellow Marines)," she said. "He was on a leadership team over there and they talked about how he'd bring them hot cocoa when they needed it. (He would do that) just out of the blue, so he was very thoughtful."

House Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say said that, over the years, the Hawai'i Medal of Honor ceremonies haven't gotten any easier as he reflected on the lives prematurely lost.

"I see the faces of the loved ones they have left behind, etched with sadness and pain, that I cannot possibly assuage. I wish I could," Say said. "All I can do is to tell you that each of you has lost a remarkable father, mother, son, daughter, uncle or aunt, cousin or friend this past year."

The House gallery was mostly filled with Army green and Marine Corps khaki.

Many of those present in the gallery were there for a particular person.

Marine Capt. Mike Buckley, 28, wore a black remembrance bracelet for Army Maj. Rocco Barnes. The 50-year-old Barnes, who was an "individual augmentee" assigned to Hawai'i's 3rd Marine Regiment, was killed June 4, 2009, in Afghanistan in a vehicle rollover.

Buckley said Barnes was one of the most influential people in his life and was "a great leader, a great person."

Hawai'i Army National Guard soldier Sgt. 1st Class Marc Britos was at the ceremony to honor Spc. Cwislyn Walter. The 19-year-old with the Guard's 29th Special Troops Battalion died Feb. 19, 2009, in Kuwait in a vehicle accident.

"We were in the same company," Britos said. Britos remembered Walter as "always smiling, always making you laugh. She was a nice, genuine person."