I had intended to write this post yesterday but was
derailed by the tragic crash of a US Marine helicopter in
Iraq. All aboard were killed, including 26 soldiers
home-stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and one US Navy
medical corpsman from Pearl Harbor. Their stories are just
starting to be told.
But the story I’m about to tell today is the story of 1st
Lt. Nainoa Hoe. Lt. Hoe was not part of the helicopter
incident but rather died a few days earlier. In reading
fellow Daynoter Brian Bilbrey’s post on
Wednesday, Brian listed the names of three soldiers
killed in Iraq, one of which was Hoe.
Brian’s post got me to thinking that I should tell you
folks a little more about who Lt. Hoe was.
It is sometimes easy to forget that each of these soldiers
has their own story. Each has families, parents, and other
relatives that care for them. Each had dreams of what they
wanted to do with their lives once they got back to the Real
Lt. Hoe was no different. Hoe was a native Hawaiian and
graduated in 1995 from the Kamehameha Schools, a school
founded by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in 1887. From there
he went to the University of Hawai’i (UH) where he graduated
with an undergraduate degree in Management Information
Systems and then on to a Masters in Business Administration.
While at UH, Hoe enrolled in the ROTC
program, rising to Brigade Commander in his last year (the
highest leadership position possible). He graduated tops in
his ROTC class and fourth nationwide (out of about
In further recognition of his leadership qualities, Nainoa
was named U.S. Army Pacific Reserve soldier of the year in
But besides the obvious leader he was, what kind of person
was Lt. Hoe? People have described Nainoa as charismatic,
serious, precise, well-mannered, and unassuming. But, at the
same time, he loved to sing karaoke and be with his
Perhaps it was some of these qualities that attracted the
young woman who would soon become his wife. Emily (I love
that name) said they met through the Internet in November
2003, exchanging photos and information in an online
match-making service. At the time, he was stationed at Fort
Benning, Ga., going through Ranger school with a goal of
eventually working for the FBI as a special agent. She was a
student attending a college in Oregon.
“When I saw his picture and saw his smile, there was
something about it that really drew me in,” Emily said. They
arranged a meeting in Oregon, “and it was one of those
love-at-first-sight kind of things.”
They were married, in a simple ceremony, about six month
later. On the beach in Hawaii Kai. At sunset. With just their
parents attending. Just before being sent for additional
training and then on to Iraq in October.
On Saturday, January 22, 2005, Lt. Hoe sent an e-mail to
his wife telling her that he had just found out he would get
a two-week leave in February. He was excited that he would
get the opportunity to see her and that he wanted them to
spend their time in Hawaii. The e-mail went on to say that
“he was going to love me forever and how he couldn’t wait to
see me,” Emily said.
Two hours later, while on foot patrol in Mosul, Iraq,
where U.S. forces have been mounting stepped-up raids and
patrols ahead of national elections scheduled for this
Sunday, shots rang out. As if in slow motion, a spray of
bullets came flying his way. And even though he had body
armor on to protect his chest and back, a bullet struck him
from the side, passing through a gap in the protective vest
and into his chest.
He is survived by his heartbroken parents (Allen, a
Vietnam veteran, and Adele), a younger brother (Nakoa, also
in the military and being deployed to Iraq) and his loving
21-year-old wife – Emily.
Whether you support the war in Iraq or not, remember that
there is a story behind each and every name on the list of
soldiers. Remember that there is a price to pay for
being in Iraq. And remember that, sometimes, that price is
paid in the blood of soldiers like 1st. Lt. Nainoa Hoe. May
he rest in peace and may his death not have been in vain.
Have a Great Weekend, Everyone – Aloha!