Retired Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who grew up on Oahu and was assigned to investigate prisoner abuses at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, will be appearing Sunday at the Veterans Day Memorial at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery and at the We Love Veterans Maui luncheon in Kahului.
The second American of Filipino descent to become a general in the U.S. Army had planned to come to Maui to participate in a Veterans Day parade that has since been canceled, organizers for both events said.
The retired general, 62, who graduated from Leilehua High School, filed a report in 2004 that described incidents of prisoners being stripped, abused and sexually humiliated by Army soldiers. This internal report eventually became public, creating a firestorm of controversy about the treatment of prisoners by their jailers at the now infamous prison.
In an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh in 2007 for The New Yorker, Taguba said he got the job of investigating the 800th Military Police Brigade because the head of the unit was a one-star general. Regulations required the investigation be done by a senior to the unit commander, and Taguba was a two-star general.
He retired from the Army in 2007, and the next year he accused the Bush administration of war crimes in a report by "Physicians for Human Rights."
"This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the commander-in-chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture," he wrote in the report. "This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals' lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors. . . .
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes."
Taguba was born in the Philippines. His father, Tomas, was drafted into the Philippine Scouts in early 1942 during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, The New Yorker article said. His father was captured by the Japanese, survived the Bataan Death March, and later escaped and joined the underground resistance.
Taguba's family moved to Hawaii in 1961, the article said. A year later, he became a U.S. citizen. He graduated from Idaho State University in 1972 and was an Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet. The newly commissioned officer would work his way up the ranks with assignments in South Korea, Germany and across America.
In 1968, Major Taguba was selected to attend the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., The New Yorker said. He would be promoted to colonel and then general; he also earned three master's degrees - in public administration, international relations and national security studies.
On Veterans Day on Sunday, Taguba will be the guest speaker at the Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony at the Makawao Veterans Cemetery, beginning at 9 a.m. The other guest speaker at the public event, organized by the Maui Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association, will be Mayor Alan Arakawa.
The keynote speaker will be state Rep. Kyle Yamashita.
A highlight of the program is an "open forum," an opportunity for members of the public to express their feelings and appreciation for veterans. Last year at the event, the first organized by the Korean War veterans, six Vietnam War veterans spoke at the open forum.
Earlier in the ceremony, the Korean War veterans second vice president, Warren Nishida, will place a black drape with the Missing In Action logo over an empty chair. This is an act of remembrance for those soldiers missing in action in all wars.
The master of ceremony will be the group's president, Robert "Sam" Fevella, and William "Bill" Sakamoto, president-elect, will offer the closing. The Rev. Earl Kukahiko will give the invocation.
"On this day, Veterans Day, we especially need to remember and honor those veterans who are buried on this land that we are now standing on," the draft copy of the event program says, referring to the Makawao Veterans Cemetery.
The group hopes that those attending will help in "honoring and commemorating all those men and women who have loyally served our country."
Taguba then will head to the "Mentoring Our Future Leaders" luncheon, put on by We Love Veterans Maui, a nonprofit organization. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cafe O'Lei at The Dunes at Maui Lani.
The cost is $40 to attend. Reservations will be confirmed with payment to Point Man Ministries Hawaii. Contact Elizabeth Ayson by phone at 573-0377 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call Ed Gazmen at 276-8373 or email email@example.com.
The nonprofit group has planned two other events "that will demonstrate community gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifice and service they (veterans) have provided for all of us," a news release said.
Today from 4 to 6 p.m., there will be a presentation on military sexual trauma titled "To speak the Unspeakable, for those who dare to listen." The event will be held at the U.S. Army Reserve Center on the corner of Lunalilo Street and Kaahumanu Avenue in Wailuku.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Maui Veterans Community Picnic is planned at Pomaikai Elementary School cafeteria in Kahului. Lunch will be provided. There will be entertainment and prize drawings.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.