More Than 1,000 Attend Coast Guard Memorial Dedication

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton

HONOLULU — The sun was bright and the winds were cool at the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific where, after months of work, a Coast Guard Veterans Memorial was unveiled Friday, Jan. 18, 2008.

The Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Thad W. Allen, traveled to Honolulu to be a part of the terrific experience. He spoke humbly to the substantial crowd of more than 1,000 veterans, guests, friend and members of the U.S. Coast Guard in Hawaii about the importance and significance of those who have served their country.

Answering America’s call to duty, Coast Guard men and women have performed heroically in war and peace. Many of the stories of their sacrifices are well known and form the foundation of our Coast Guard culture and core values. From their actions, we have come to embrace honor, respect and devotion to duty as our core values. Yet, in one of the most revered settings honoring America’s military service in the Pacific, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, no single memorial had existed to recognize Coast Guard veterans.

Memorials have been placed at Punchbowl commemorating every other branch of the military and many individual units, but none had existed to honor the service and sacrifice of Coast Guard veterans until now.

After anxious waiting during beautiful entertainment, the memorial was finally revealed by the distinguished guests for all to see. The crowd applauded, for the time had finally come for the brave men and women Coast Guard veterans to be recognized for their outstanding achievements in the Pacific.

“It’s terrific,” said Robert Knaki, a U.S. Army Purple Heart recipient, “finally you guys (Coastguardsmen) get the respect you deserve after the long painful Pacific War Campaign.”

With hundreds of active duty personnel, numerous veteran posts and about 200 other onlookers, Punchbowl seemed to be flooded with “blue.” Also the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka and the Mayor of Honolulu, Mufi Hannemann, attended, and explained the Coast Guard’s vital role in the Hawaiian Island’s past and present.

It was an astonishing sight to see active duty members mingle with veterans, said some members. They shared sea stories; veterans talked about the “good old days” and even brought up some, “I remember when” stories. The mix of personalities was diverse, but the Coast Guard’s core values, honor, respect and devotion to duty, could show in everyone throughout the crowd.

“This is a great event,” said Adm. Allen, “it is something we will remember for years to come.”

HONOLULU -- Honored guests reveal the Coast Guard Pacific Veterans Memorial at Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton).

HONOLULU — Honored guests reveal the Coast Guard Pacific Veterans Memorial at Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton.

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  1. Jim Canavan says:

    Today, Veterans Day 2008, I learned of the Coast Guard Memorial at Punchbowl. As one who served aboard USCGC YAKUAT (WHEC 380) for nearly three years, including Operation Market Time in 1967, my thanks go to those who made this memorial possible. My father served aboard a LST as a coastie during the Pacific invasions, so this is for him too. Semper P.

  2. Jim Canavan says:

    I was surprised to see my name on a blog…but it wasn’t me it was you.

    I am a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Northern New York and would enjoy hearing from you.

    my phone is 518-793-3741

    Jim Canavan