Hawaii Medal of Honor: fallen service members recognized at Capitol

Hawaii lawmakers honor fallen service members

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawai'i Medal of Honor is the highest recognition in the state for our troops who die in service to our country.

Whether they were born and raised in the islands, or only called Hawai'i home for a little while -- 19 service members with ties to the state were awarded the Hawai'i Medal of Honor during a joint legislative session today.

Among them 22-year-old Corporal Joseph "Joey" Logan, who spoke with his parents the morning his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan -- killing all 6 Marines on board.

"I think he knew something was up. I think some people have a window -- a peek at what's going on -- and the last thing he said was, 'I love you Mom and Dad' -- and that was the last time I heard from him, but at least we had that," said Tom Logan, Joey's dad, as he choked back tears.

The Logan's were one of only 10 family members or friends who were able to receive the medal in-person, which features the star of the 50th state on the American flag.

"We want to show these families that we still care," said Representative Mark Takai, who was instrumental in the passage of Act 21, which created the Hawai'i Medal of Honor in 2005. "We have people coming from far away just to get this medal on behalf of their loved one and we tell them they're always going to be a part of Hawai'i."

Sitting quietly in the audience today was Shirley "Lani" Kauhaihao, whose husband First Lieutenant John Kauhaihao was killed in combat during Vietnam.  Earlier this morning the House passed a resolution urging Congress to award him the Congressional Medal of Honor. It's been more than 40 years, but like the Logan's -- she vividly remembers the last time she heard from John.

"He hoped and prayed according to the letter that he would make it out safely and be able to come home," said Kauhaihao, looking at the letter which has yellowed with age. "The letter was written on the 29th of August, he died on the 5th of September."

Officials say these aren't the recognitions they ever hope to give, but it's important that those who've paid the ultimate sacrifice are never forgotten.

According to Rep. Takai, as of December 31, 2012, Hawai'i has lost 327 service members in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.