Waipahu students unveil peace bench to honor fallen Marauders

By Kristy Tamashiro
HNN Spring Intern

WAIPAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- Waipahu High School unveiled a peace bench Wednesday for eight fallen Marauders who died in the Vietnam War.

Waipahu High School’s Pacific and Asian Affairs Council Club and Design Thinking Team spearheaded the project to thank the fallen soldiers for their service.

The bench mainly represents a symbol of appreciation,” said Kay Hian Calpito, a Waipahu High junior. “The pieces don’t just represent the wounds but a bridge between the present and the past.”

The school's Pacific and Asian Affairs club dreamed up a prototype bench and Industrial Engineering and Technology Construction students finalized the design and built the end product.

Family members of two of the honored veterans -- Spc. Larry Alcos and Cpl. Rodney Cantohos -- attended the dedication ceremony.

"I thank the teachers and the kids for making this happen," said Richard Alcos, whose brother died in the Vietnam War. "You know this young generation they think about the veterans that died and I thank them very much in my heart."

The project was inspired by Billie Gabriel, who has worked for years to find photos of the 312 Hawaii soldiers who didn't make it home from the Vietnam War. Gabriel started the project six years ago. Her brother, James, was the first Native Hawaiian and Filipino to be killed in the Vietnam War in 1962.

"So many mixed emotions with today's ceremony, certainly pride is number one," Gabriel said. "Pride because these students, this was a student driven project and pride because the families were here and for them to see their brothers never forgotten in a way that future generations will be able to remember that these were students who walked these same halls with us and in their youth they dedicated their life to our country."

The Honorees:

  • Spc. Pepito Aceret, Army, Class of 1963
  • Staff Sgt. Henry Aragon, Army, Class of 1960
  • Staff Sgt. Fredrico Arnado, Marines, Class of 1956
  • Cpl. Rodney Cantohos, Army, Class of 1968
  • Staff Sgt. Joseph Del Rosario, Air Force, Class of 1944
  • Spc. Larry Alcos, Army, Class of 1966
  • Spc. Franklin Sibayan, Army, Class of 1963
  • Sgt. Thomas Root, Marines, Class of 1966

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