MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 12-foot warrior statue now stands on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus to honor 15 Reserve Officer Training Corps members who died in combat.
The statue, which resembles one of King Kamehameha's warriors, was unveiled at a fallen warrior memorial dedication on Friday near the university's ROTC building. It's meant to commemorate the 14 UH ROTC cadets and one cadre member who were killed during World War II, Vietnam, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Family members of the fallen, federal and state lawmakers and military and community dignitaries attended the ceremony in hopes of keeping the warriors' spirits alive.
"You know, I think, for my family, our biggest fear is that Nainoa would be forgotten," said Alan Hoe, father of fallen warrior Lt. Nainoa Hoe. "It's things and moments and ceremonies like this that basically reassures us that he will never be forgotten."
ROTC cadets read short biographies and stories of how each soldier died, then placed white roses on empty chairs or gave roses to family members.
"To see this statue being place here in honored of the cadets and the cadre members who have gone before us and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, it's just really important and special so we can always remember our roots and where we are going in the future," ROTC cadet Lt. Col. Claire Yakabe said.
The statue, which was paid for by donations and fund-raising efforts, was hand-carved from a monkeypod tree by Tuione Pulotu, a master carver from the island of Tonga.