Hanauma Bay Welcomes War Veterans

David Camargo
David Camargo

HANAUMA BAY (KHNL) -- Adjusting to life back home can be tough after fighting overseas. We met a group of Iraq War veterans making their first trip to Hawaii to get a taste of island life. Monday, they visited Hanauma Bay.

The sparkling waters of East Oahu's Hanauma Bay provide a sharp contrast to the dry, desert battlefield conditions in Iraq. Eighteen service members get the royal treatment at the bay and here's why.

Hanauma Bay attracts snorkelers from all over the world. This group came from San Antonio, Texas.

"We've done surfing, snorkeling, canoeing. That's about it so far," said David Camargo, a U.S. infantry soldier from Mission, Texas.

This is Camargo's first trip to Hawaii.

"It's very relaxing," he said. "This whole island is like a whole other world. It's probably something you never would have known existed unless you came here."

Camargo and his group members are all war veterans. He lost a leg in Iraq when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device or an IED. Others also lost limbs.

"I was in the hospital when I woke up, and I realized what happened and I was just happy to be alive," said Camargo.

It took him about six months before he could start walking again.

"It's very frustrating being a very active young man, and then all of a sudden, you have to sit in a chair for a long time, not be able to do anything," said Camargo.

Thanks to folks at Hanauma Bay, Camargo and his buddies go snorkeling at one of the most popular spots in the islands. In the deep blue ocean, they see schools of fish and even a turtle.

"Things like this help us realize that we can still do things and life goes on," said Camargo.

And he hopes, folks realize the high price of freedom.

"As they go on with their daily lives, this country is still at war and just to not forget that," said Camargo. "Even if they don't support the war, they could still support the troops."

Camargo and his fellow service members are in Hawaii for about a week, enjoying island activities. The trip was sponsored by Operation Comfort, a non-profit based out of San Antonio, Texas. To find out more about Operation Comfort, click the link on this page.