Wa­ialua Grad Kuewa Added To Heroes List

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Front Page -

BY STEVE MUR­RAY

Af­ter nearly five decades of delays, air­man Al­bert Kala­hana Kuewa, a Wa­ialua High School grad­u­ate who was killed in Viet­nam, fi­nally has taken his place of honor among Hawaii’s fallen ser­vice mem­bers.

Kuewa was hon­ored May 15 dur­ing a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony at the Viet­nam Me­mo­rial on the State Capi­tol grounds. The mov­ing cer­e­mony in­cluded an oli and prayer by Kahu Manu Mook, national and state an­thems, speeches by Gov. Neil Aber­crom­bie and Kuewa fam­ily rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the pre­sen­ta­tion of lei on the me­mo­rial stone by the fam­ily, and clos­ing mu­sic by the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii. Kuewa’s name was en­graved in March on the Viet­nam Me­mo­rial in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Kuewa was killed while work­ing on the flight deck of the USS Ranger in the Golf of Tonkin. The ship was con­duct­ing air re­con­nais­sance mis­sions over Laos when the Haleiwa na­tive was struck by a mov­ing plane. Two con­flict­ing ships logs re­ported dif­fer­ent in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing one that in­cor­rectly

recorded Kuewa’s death as a re­sult of the air­man walk­ing into a pro­pel­ler while the car­rier was idle, mak­ing his death in­el­i­gi­ble for hon­ors.

That Kuewa fi­nally re­ceived his recog­ni­tion was largely the re­sult of Wahi­awa res­i­dent Ben­jamin Ishida, who made it his duty to see his friend prop­erly hon­ored.

Ishida, 69, and Kuewa were ship­mates aboard the Ranger, and the con­struc­tion com­pany owner and re­tired fire­fighter vowed he would find out why his friend had not re­ceived his due honor.

Af­ter decades of re­search and the as­sis­tance of for­mer U.S. Sen. and World War II vet­eran Daniel Akaka, Ishida fi­nally ful­filled his prom­ise.

Grace Kuewa presents flow­ers at the May 15 ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for her brother Al­bert Kala­hana Kuewa, whose name was placed on the state Viet­nam Me­mo­rial. Kuewa was killed in 1964 but record er­rors re­sulted in his name be­ing left off of state and national memo­ri­als. See more pho­tos on Page 5. Photo by Nathalie Walker, nwalker@mid­week.com.

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