Hawaiian commerce leaders hosted the 24th Annual Military Recognition Luncheon May 21 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to celebrate and support Hawaii-based service members.
The long-running luncheon is part of Military Appreciation Month and serves as a culminating event for local businesses and civic leaders to show their support with food and a few words about military significance in Hawaii.
The men and women stationed here adopt Hawaii as their home and become part of the Hawaiian institution – the “ohana,” or family, said Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
Stalder noted some of the service members’ significant achievements in duty and community service.
“The Hawaii ohana (family) reaches out to embrace the military in many ways throughout the year, not just during Military Appreciation Month,” Stalder said. “The local community comes out to celebrate … when [servicemembers] depart or return from deployments. They also mourn our losses alongside us.”
With a considerable military presence and economical impact on Oahu, local businesses took the opportunity to thank and honor their local service members.
It was an appropriate time for Hawaii to rise up and show their appreciation for all the military does, said Charles Ota, vice-president of military affairs, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s an excellent opportunity,” he said. “We also used the luncheon to recognize the outstanding service members of the Year.”
The seven outstanding service members were selected because of extracurricular efforts and significant community service. Each service elected a recipient, including Hawaii Air National Guard and U.S. Pacific Command.
Among those recognized was Staff Sgt. Michael Ciccolone, named U.S. Marine Corps Outstanding Enlisted Person of the Year, from Marine Corps Base Hawaii with the Military Police Department.
“Hawaii has the best military appreciation month – because of their support,” said Outstanding Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Terrish Bilbrey, a 29-year-old operations specialist from Lafayette, Tenn.
“It’s nice for the community to show us their appreciation, it means something,” she added.