Group raises money to send rice, furikake to Hawaii troops in Afghanistan

Alumni group sending ‘aloha packages’ to Hawaii soldiers in Afghanistan

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Within the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade, the 487th Artillery Battalion is known as the Hiki No Battalion.

Hundreds of those Hawaii soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan, protecting military bases from rocket and mortar attacks.

"We understand what it felt like when we deployed and the support that we got from Hawaii and it's our turn to give back," retired Brig. Gen. Keith Tamashiro said.

He is part of the Hiki No Artillery Association.The group is mobilizing money to assemble aloha packages for the soldiers.

“Obviously, sashimi or poke wouldn’t have made it. So in the end what we finally decided on was the ready-made package microwaveable rice and the furikake,” association member Peter Hirai said.

The goal is to raise funds to buy enough rice and Japanese seasoning for all the soldiers ― then ship it overseas.

Right now, 330 Hawaii Army National Guard troops are stationed at seven bases in Afghanistan.

The brigade's combat commander is Col. Roy Macaraeg. During his recent deployment to Kosovo he received similar care packages from his family.

“I took the rice and furikake and got slices of SPAM. That was my SPAM musubi,” he said. “It makes a whole lot of difference.”

“Rice means a lot to local guys,” said Jim Reis, who was a command sergeant major with Hiki No Battalion during the Vietnam War.

The Hiki No Artillery Association set up a GoFundMe account to raise $2,100 to purchase and ship the goods so they reach the soldiers by the holidays.

"In the remote forward operating bases it can take about a month to get the supplies to them," Hirai said.

He was a member of the battalion from 1984 to 1995.

The troops are in the middle of a one-year deployment. To help the Aloha Packages effort, click here.

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