19 fallen Hawaii warriors honored with state medal

Posted on Mar 29, 2013 in In The News

By Gary T. Kubota

HonSA Mar 28, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state lawmakers on Wednesday recognized 19 Hawaii-based members of the U.S. military who died in defense of their country.

“They were willing to put themselves forward to accomplish that. … They are buried in our hearts,” Abercrombie said during a ceremony in the state Senate chamber, where the Hawaii Medal of Honor was awarded.

Many relatives of the fallen were there to accept the medal, traveling from their hometowns in New Jersey, Florida and other points. One of the soldiers honored was an Army helicopter pilot from Waipahu, Don C. Viray.

An honor guard from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam conducted a gun salute outside the Capitol.

The state established the Hawaii Medal of Honor in 2005 to honor military members from Hawaii or based in Hawaii who were killed since 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghani-stan. The medal has been awarded to 327 people.

Viray, a chief warrant officer 2, was killed along with three other soldiers when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on April 19, 2012. His crewmates — Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson, Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer and Sgt. Chris J. Workman — also were honored Wednesday.

Waipahu resident Leo Viray, a retired Army chief warrant officer, was at the Capitol to accept the medal on behalf of his son Don, who was 25 years old when he died.

Leo Viray said his son‘s job was flying the wounded to safety.

“I want the people to remember he loved to help people. … He helped a lot of injured soldiers, airmen, Marines,” Viray said.

Also at the ceremony were Jennifer Riddick and her daughter Victoria, who traveled from Florida to accept the medal on behalf of Marine Corps Master Sgt. Travis Riddick, 40, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 19, 2012, in Helmand province.

Jennifer Riddick said her husband was a teacher and a leader who trained many Marines in his 21 years of service.

“We’re very proud of him and everything he stood for, and we still admire the Marine Corps and the freedoms it gives us,” she said.

State House Speaker Joseph Souki assured the families and friends of those receiving the awards that the 19 will be remembered.

“We honor you our fallen heroes, and we offer our deepest gratitude to you for answering the call and making the ultimate sacrifice,” Souki said.

“For the family and friends with brothers and sisters in arms, please know that the people of this state, this community, stand with you in remembering and honoring your loves ones,” Souki said.



2013 Hawaii Medal of Honor recipients:

Army  Sgt. Richard A. Essex; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian D. Hornsby; Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas S. Johnson; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Suresh N.A. Krause; Sgt. Sapuro B. Nena; Sgt. Luis A. Oliver Galbreath; 1st Lt. Clovis T. Ray; Sgt. Dean R. Shaffer; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don C. Viray; Sgt. Chris J. Workman

Marine Corps  Capt. Daniel B. Bartle; Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley; Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson; Cpl. Joseph D. Logan; Capt. Nathan R. McHone; Cpl. Kevin J. Reinhard; Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick; Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr.; Cpl. Jesse W. Stites

Source: State Legislature