U.S. Pacific Command

 

K. Mark Takai Pacific Warfighting Center Dedication Ceremony

By ADM Harry Harris | U.S. Pacific Command | May 31, 2017

Adm. Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

K. Mark Takai Pacific Warfighting Center Dedication Ceremony
Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

May 31, 2017
As Delivered

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m grateful to share this important day with you. Thanks for joining the Takai ohana today, honoring and memorializing a true Pacific warrior, patriot and statesman: the late Congressman Mark Takai.
 
Rep. Takai was a man of tremendous character who served our nation in Congress and in uniform. As a principled leader, he was a powerful and respected voice for the Pacific-based military community.
 
While in uniform, Rep. Takai served as a proud member of the Hawaii Army National Guard and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Notably, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009. 
 
Among numerous awards, Lieutenant Colonel Takai received the Army Meritorious Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal from the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Hawaii Distinguished Service Order.
 
Rep. Takai also served his community for 20 years as a state representative. Then, in 2014 he was elected to the U.S. Congress where he represented Hawaii’s 1st District and served on the powerful Armed Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, and the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. 
 
Rep. Takai lived a short but meaningful life. A life fully lived. He was a fighter, all the way to the end. Today he is missed by his colleagues in Congress, his battle buddies in the Army, his constituents in Hawaii, and, of course, his family.
 
On a personal level, I also miss him. I miss his infectious enthusiasm, mastery of what’s really important, and unwavering moral compass. When I testified before the House Armed Services Committee, I knew I had to be well prepared -- he was a tough, but fair, questioner who always had our nation's interests at heart.
 
I remember just a year ago, following President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima, Congressman Takai invited Japan’s Prime Minister Abe to make a similar visit to Pearl Harbor in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Oahu, and sure enough, that important visit happened right over there.
(Adm. Harris points toward the USS Arizona Memorial) 
 
Rep. Takai made this invite just two months before he passed. He knew that the visit would demonstrate to the world that our nations have moved beyond the burdens of history toward a brighter future -- that we should respect the past, but not be shackled to it -- and that our obligations to our ancestors should not overshadow our hopes for our descendants. Thanks to him and others like him, today more so than ever, the U.S.-Japan alliance is committed to preserving peace and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
 
Congressman Takai was a visionary who fought for a better tomorrow for Hawaii, our nation, and, indeed, the globe. President Obama said, and I quote: "Mark was always a fighter. He stood up for America’s most vulnerable. He championed our troops and veterans, and proudly wore our nation’s uniform." Unquote.
 
That’s exactly right. Which brings me to why we are here today: to pay tribute to an Army warrior and a son of Hawaii. I can’t think of a better location than right here, just a few miles from where Congressman Takai grew up.
 
The K. Mark Takai Pacific Warfighting Center prepares our women and men in uniform to overcome 21st century security challenges. In addition to state-of-the-art training for military commanders and their staffs, the center supports multinational collaboration among government and non-government agencies in times of crisis. 
 
This facility makes us better warfighters, and it honors the warrior and warfighter that Congressman Takai was. Our military women and men who walk these halls will know Congressman Takai’s name, they will know his story, and they will continue in his footsteps as warrior servants.
 
Before I conclude I want to personally thank you, Sami… and you, Matthew… and you, Kaila… for allowing me to be a part of your husband’s and your father’s life. Congressman Takai approached everything with the spirit of Aloha and his door was always open to our men and women in uniform and the citizens of Hawaii.
 
And his door was always open to me. I learned a lot from him and I miss his advice and counsel. Our nation owes much to his bravery, honor, and dedication. Truly, it was a pleasure to work with him and even better to know him.
 
On behalf of the men and women of United States Pacific Command, it is altogether fitting to have Congressman Takai’s name memorialized at this historic location. 
 
Thank you all for coming to today’s dedication ceremony. May God bless the Takai ohana. May God bless each great patriot who serves and fights for this Nation around the world -- and may God bless this land of liberty we call America. Thank you.



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