Medal of Honor recipients dedicate memorial stone - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Medal of Honor recipients dedicate memorial stone

PUNCHBOWL (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 50 Medal of Honor recipients remembered their fallen comrades during a visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. After a private memorial service on Wednesday morning, they dedicated a special stone as a lasting tribute.

32 recipients are interred at the cemetery. Another 30, designated as missing in action, are memorialized in the Courts of the Missing. Now they're being honored with a new memorial stone which will be displayed in a prominent spot.

"The highest area in Punchbowl, and it's right up there for our highest honor," said retired U.S. Navy Admiral Thomas Fargo, co-chair of the convention's host committee.

The dedication is one of several activities taking place during the week-long 2012 Medal of Honor convention. Hawaii is hosting the annual gathering of heroes for the first time in three decades.

"We're the beneficiaries of your sacrifice. We salute your courage, your dedication, your loyalty to God and country," said Gene Castagnetti, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

There are a total of 81 living recipients, but their numbers have been declining in recent years.

"In Vietnam, which is overly represented here among our recipients, 245 Medals of Honor in 10 years. In Iraq and Afghanistan, in a period of 10 years, nine Medals of Honor. The statistics tell us that the nature of war is changing. We have no more large military movements," said Jerry Coffee, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who served as the ceremony's keynote speaker.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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