Hawaii Honors Individual Augmentees at Luncheon
HONOLULU - More than 140 Hawaii-based Sailors and Marines with their families were recognized for their service as individual augmentees (IAs) during the 4th annual "Boots on the Ground" IA recognition luncheon at the Ala Moana Hotel, Feb 24.
Hosted by the Honolulu Council Navy League and presented by Partners in Patriotism, the luncheon acknowledged the commitment of service members who left their assigned commands to fill individual billet requirements for various combatant commanders around the world.
"It's truly an honor for me to be here today to help recognize our returning individual augmentees," said Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Rear Adm. Russ Penniman, who was the guest speaker at the event. "It is important to note that our Sailors and Marines could not do what they do for our nation without the support of their families, and it is only appropriate that we use occasions such as these to recognize the greatest supporters of our service men and women."
IAs served in diverse capacities and usually in hostile conditions, making significant impacts in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and the Republic of the Philippines. At the luncheon, IAs received a recognition coin from Penniman and the Navy League for their service.
One of the IAs was Information Systems Technician 2nd Class MiChele Dykes, assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific, who deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for 9 months in 2011.
"This is definitely something I enjoyed—being recognized and being around other people who volunteered to go IA and who have done the mission to help out the Army," said Dykes.
Gladys Gacayan, a Navy spouse, said she and her family supported her husband for a long 14-month IA deployment.
"We took it day-by-day," said Gacayan. "I'm always thinking of him. I had to be strong for him I have to keep doing my everyday routine because I work also as a nurse. Our three children missed their father and they were very excited and surprised when he finally came home."
Penniman also recognized Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Mark Cannon, who was killed in action during combat operations in Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. During an enemy engagement Cannon ran to the aid of a fallen Marine. He was subsequently hit and killed by enemy fire.
"It was at the request of the Marines who served with HM3 Cannon in Afghanistan that he be recognized here this afternoon, and it is certainly fitting and proper that we do so," said Penniman.
Cannon received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with a Combat "V" for Valor for his actions.
Since 2002, more than 100,000 active and Reserve Sailors served on IA deployments. Today there are about 6,500 Sailors deployed in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
More than 1,400 IA Sailors have been awarded the Bronze Star and nearly 20,000 have been awarded meritorious service awards of various types. There are 62 Sailors who were awarded the Purple Heart.