Late Maui horseman awarded medal at annual ceremony

MAKAWAO – Hundreds, including a Maui-born and -raised retired brigadier general, attended the annual Memorial Day service at Maui Veterans Cemetery to pay respect to the fallen.

“I am so happy to return to the island of my birth. A place where I grew up and received my early education,” said Clarence M. Agena, who served as the guest speaker at Monday’s event in Makawao. “As a boy growing up in Lahaina, I can still remember the ceremonies and tributes honoring our Maui veterans at the war memorial, fronting Lahaina’s banyan tree.”

Agena served 37 years in the military, including stints as deputy adjutant general and commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard. He also served as an artillery officer of the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry “Wolfhounds,” during the Vietnam War.

“A military veterans cemetery symbolizes more than a final resting place for those who were in the service for country and state,” he said. “As a sacred burial ground it bears solemn testimony as a continuing and enduring memory to those honored through life and in death.”

The general was joined by dozens of Maui veterans, including the families of those who died during and after the war.

Pfc. Akira Ishikawa was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, which was given to his son Lloyd Ishikawa.

The famous Ulupalakua Ranch horseman was honored with the medal by Agena, for his service with Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

“It’s a little bit late,” Lloyd Ishikawa said of his father who died two months ago. “I won’t say anything more about that.”

Akira Ishikawa was recognized Monday for his contributions in the Anzio Campaign in Italy, where he served as a soldier, wireman and muleskinner. As a muleskinner, he would transport ammunition and supplies to soldiers but would also gather fallen soldiers.

“You know these 100s and 442nds, they rarely speak of the war and all the blood,” Lloyd Ishikawa said. “I don’t know if he was still recovering, but I know he suffered from PTSD a lot and he wouldn’t talk about that either. It makes it hard for a lot of people, me too.

“Taking care of him the last six years . . . taught me a lot of compassion and I learned how to understand more.”

The ceremony included music from the Maui High School band, a flower drop by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, a floral tribute to deceased veterans and an honors gun salute by the VFW Post 3850 Honor Guard.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono was in attendance and spoke during the ceremony.

“Today we gather to recognize the sacrifice of not just our military members, but the support of the military families, who do without a loved one while the service member is deployed in harm’s way,” she said. “We also share the grief and sense of loss in the families that mourn for those that have died in service. We gather here on Maui as millions throughout the world remember.”

Hirono honored many Maui veterans, including Pfc. Anthony Kaho’ohanohano, who died in the Korean War and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor; and Kraig Vickers, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialist who died serving with the Navy SEALs in Afghanistan in 2011.

“These brave individuals gave their lives in service and represent the millions who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Hirono said.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at