HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sixteen fallen war heroes were honored Tuesday in a special joint session of the Hawaii State Senate and Hawaii State House of Representatives. Friends and family of nine of the heroes were there to pick up Hawaii Medals of Honor.
The fallen men all had two things in common: they all had ties to Hawaii, and they all passed away in 2010. As of December 31, 2010, Hawaii has lost 284 service members with Hawaii ties, who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
They came from many parts of the US military, like the United Armed Forces, United States Military Reserves, and the Hawaii National Guard, and, although they received Hawaii Medals of Honor, they will be remembered for much more than a plaque with a name on it. "He had an outgoing personality, great talent, he loved art, he loved all kinds of activities, he had a lot of friends. He was a joy to be with. He was one of those guys that could brighten up your day," said James Olsen, father of United States Army Specialist Toby R. Olsen.
Timothy Poole Sr. had other things to say about the Hawaii Medal of Honor. "Freedom is not free. It comes with a price. As long as there are those that are willing to pay that price for us, we will be free." His son, United States Marine Corps Lance Timothy J. Poole Jr., was stationed in Hawaii for a while. He was 22 years old.
Poole Sr. said his son wanted to be one thing only when he grew up, and that was a marine. He recounted the last words his son ever said to him before leaving on a tour of Iraq: "My son said, 'dad, if I die, I want you to know I died my way. I died serving the country I love. I died serving the country I believe in'."
In 2005, the Legislature passed House Bill 8, which created the Hawaii Medal of Honor. This special medal is awarded on behalf of the people of the State of Hawaii to an individual who was killed in action while serving our country as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The session ended Tuesday with a presentation of Taps and a ceremonial firing of rifles.