SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The air stood still as attendees saluted the flag during the national anthem. Battle buddies, Soldiers, warriors, leaders and all, stood side by side to pay tribute to their fallen brothers in combat.
On Jan. 22, Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment ‘Gimlets’, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division paid tribute to fallen heroes of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ceremony brought guests from across the island to come together and pay their respects.
1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe was one of twelve ‘Gimlets’ Soldiers being honored in the ceremony. During his time in Iraq, Hoe was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment when he was killed in combat on Jan. 22, 2005 at the age of 27.
The ceremony, which was held outside of the 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe Mission Training Complex here on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii was named in Hoe’s honor.
Gold Star father and Vietnam veteran Allen Hoe, father of Lt. Hoe, began telling the crowd about how his son became an officer in the U.S. Army.
Lt. Hoe was a 1995 Kamehameha Schools graduate and went on to join the reserves where he started his military career. In 1999, he was recognized as the Pacific Area Army Reservist of the Year. He enrolled in the Green-to-Gold program and commissioned as an active duty officer in 2003 from the University of Hawaii Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
In his opening remarks, Allen Hoe then took a brief pause and reminded the crowd of why attendees were at the ceremony.
“We come to admire and honor each one of these fine heroes as a special battle buddy, those that fought to our left and right,” said Hoe. “It’s important to take to remember their legacy, to remind us why we do what we do.”
Hoe, who also serves as a civilian aid for the Secretary of the Army, expressed his pride for his son. To him, his son is his biggest hero, a natural leader and a great man.
As the ceremony continued biographies of the eleven Soldiers in the ‘Gimlets’ Battalion and three fallen University of Hawaii ROTC graduates were read. The words of their memories invoked deep thought into all those in attendance.
“We are constantly reminded to never forget,” said Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific. “Sadly in the end, people forget. This is why we have to make sure we do not forget. We have to carry their legacy.”
Brown had originally served as Lt. Hoe’s commander while deployed in Iraq. “He was an incredibly professional individual, he was as inspirational as a leader on the battlefield could get and it was one of the greatest privileges in my life to serve with him,” said Brown.
A long pause echoed through the crowd. The faces of each of the fallen sitting quietly on tables as Soldiers remembered their fallen brothers.
The photos of the fallen ‘Gimlets’ are always on display in the 1-21 Inf. headquarters here on Schofield Barracks. Their images hang proudly so that “as time passes, we will remember their sacrifices.
They are permanently and proudly forged into ‘Gimlets’ history” said Lt. Col. James Hart, commander of the 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Reg.
The closing of the ceremony brought the attention of the attendees to the small American flag flying proudly next to the colors. The piece belonged to Hoe who carried them in Vietnam during his tour.
While in Iraq, Lt. Hoe continued his father’s legacy and also carried the small flag with him through his deployment. Lt. Hoe died with the flag in his possession.
Hoe closed out the ceremony by reminding all who serve, of their role in the military. “I carried that flag in Vietnam, Nainoa carried this flag in Iraq. It is an awesome legacy you all proudly carry with you every day.”