Families, fellow service members, state senators and representatives gathered at the state Capitol to remember fallen Marines and soldiers by awarding them the Hawaii Medal of Honor, March 27.
Family members came from across the U.S. to accept the award for their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“My daughter and I came all the way from Florida to receive the award for my husband,” said Jennifer Riddick, wife of Master Sgt. Travis Riddick, 40, of Centerville, Iowa.
Riddick was among the six Marines from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, who died Jan. 19, 2012, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when their CH-53D helicopter crashed.
“We love reuniting with our Marine Corps family, who we have come to know and love,” Jennifer Riddick added. “The ceremony was a great way to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen heroes.”
The Riddicks were among the small groups of family members and friends of the fallen who were able to receive the medal in person. Nineteen fallen service members were honored.
House Bill 8, designated as Act 21, Session Laws of Hawaii of 2005 reads, “The purpose of this act is to provide for a Hawaii Medal of Honor that would help express the deep appreciation and gratitude of the people of Hawaii to the loved ones of members of the military who sacrifice their lives in defense of our nation and its freedoms.”
“The Hawaii Medal of Honor is reserved for those who have touched our islands and have felt the touch of our people,” said Rep. Mark Takai, who played a pivotal role in creating the Hawaii Medal of Honor. “These medals symbolize our aloha; our farewell to those we have lost, but also our love for those who have lived among us, touched us and sacrificed for us.”
As of Dec. 31, 2012, Hawaii has lost 327 service members in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, said Takai.
Marines throughout the island, including 3rd Marine Regiment and Marine Aircraft Group 24, attended the ceremony to honor their fallen brothers and support the families who received the medal on their behalf.
“These men and women see and experience more than any person should have to ever experience in their entire lives,” said Tom Logan, father of Cpl. Joseph Logan 22, of Willis, Texas, who also died in the Jan. 19, 2012 helicopter crash. “These guys have done a lot for our country, it’s great what this state does for the military.”
Takai said, “We offer the Hawaii Medal of Honor as a small token that can never in itself repay the honor that has been given to us. An honor borne of courage, driven by duty and paid for in loss.”
Marines who received the Hawaii Medal of Honor are Riddick, Logan, Capt. Daniel B. Bartle; Capt. Nathan R. McHone; Cpl. Kevin J. Reinhard; Cpl. Jesse W. Stites; Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley; Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson; and Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke)