Happy Veterans Day

We here at Keawe Adventures wish all veterans around the world a Happy Veterans Day.

When you serve in the military, you become a part of a tight-knit community. The same thing happens when you leave. You become a veteran, joining tens of millions around the country.  It is a bond of service and sacrifice that forever holds Veterans together.

Here at Keawe Adventures we are pleased to have our own Veterans as a part of the Ohana.   Yesterday we featured our owner, Makani Christensen, in honor of the United States Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day.  Today we would like to highlight two of our guide’s military careers below.  Both are outstanding men who have answered the call to duty and to this day continue to be well involved in their communities.   Mahalo Tony and Fernando!

 

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“I entered the US Navy on 12 February 1991 and retired 29 February 2012. I had the honor of being a US Navy Seabee, the Navy’s construction engineers. Throughout my career I deployed 9 times to locations around the globe. As a Seabee,  I completed 4 combat tours, 1 tour to Bosnia/Herzegovina, and 3 tours in Iraq, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq. To me my military service is unique, I never saw it as a job, it was my life, as well as my family’s life. My wife and two daughters had to endure 9 long deployments 12 field exercises and several humanitarian relief missions all equaling 11 years apart from each other. This is time I will never get back. You would think that these sacrifices would keep any one of my daughters out of the military. Bet yet my oldest daughter serves with distinction as a First Lieutenant in the US Air Force.”

-Tony Chance, RET MCPO, United States Navy

 

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Fernando Angueira enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman in November 2002. His first duty station was 2/22 Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, NY. Fernando served as a scout and squad automatic weapon gunner. He deployed twice with 2/22; 10 months to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan and 12 months to Sadr City, Iraq. After his second combat tour he completed the Basic Airborne Course in Fort Benning, GA. In 2006, Fernando was reassigned to 1-503rd Battalion, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team-Airborne in Vicenza, Italy. He held various leadership positions over the course of eight years with the unit to include: section sergeant, squad leader, platoon sergeant, rear-detachment First Sergeant. Fernando completed three combat tours with 173rd; 15 months to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, 12 months to Wardak Province, Afghanistan, and 5 months to Logar, Province, Afghanistan. Fernando Angueira honorably completed his service in September 2014. He still remains committed and active to the Oahu veteran community through volunteer service and events.

-Fernando Angueira, SSG, United States Army

 

Mahalo and Aloha to all Veterans around the World!  We salute you!

 

 

Happy 242nd Birthday United States Marine Corps

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We here at Keawe Adventures would like to wish a Happy 242nd Birthday to the United States Marine Corps and ALL Marines around the world.  A message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps:

“This November 10th marks 242 years of warfighting excellence. At places like Trenton, Tripoli, Chapultepec, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Chosin, Khe Sanh, Fallujah, Sangin, and so many others, Marines have fought with an inner spirit – a spirit that bonds us, binds us together as a cohesive team. It’s that intangible spirit that has formed the foundation of our warfighting reputation for the past 242 years. Now it’s our responsibility to ensure we honor and carry on that legacy. The American people expect a Corps of men and women who are committed, selfless, willing to sacrifice, who epitomize honor, courage, commitment, virtue, and character. We owe our Nation and our predecessors no less.

Today, as we celebrate our 242nd birthday, we must remember who we are, where we came from, and why we’re here. We must remember the past, honor those who are no longer with us, focus on today’s battles, and get ready for tomorrow. We can and will prevail as we always have, in any clime and place. But we must prevail together, united by the unyielding spirit in each of us that makes our Corps unique – that willingness to put our Corps and fellow Marines ahead of ourselves. Victory in battle comes through the integrated efforts of many – teamwork. We value the sacrifices and contributions of every Marine and Sailor, as well as our family members without whose support we would not be able to accomplish our mission. And we remain committed to being our Nation’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness that sets the standard for honor, discipline, and courage. I am proud of each and every one of you. Happy Birthday, Marines!”

Robert B. Neller

General, U.S. Marine Corps

Commandant of the Marine Corps

We would especially like to say Happy Marine Corps Birthday and Happy Veterans Day to our owner Makani Christensen.

After studying at Kamehameha Secondary School, Makani graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He then entered the military as a Marine Officer, where he served his country for 5 years with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After receiving the Joint Service Commendation medal, Makani was honorably discharged in 2008.  Along with his Bachelor of Science in Oceanography and his strong Hawaiian genealogy, Makani’s love for the land and sea is what inspired him to start his own business. It is here where Makani finds true joy; sharing with others about Hawaii’s history, culture, and ocean environment.

Mahalo Makani for your Service!

-From the entire Keawe Adventures Ohana

 

To Our Valued Partners, Past and Future Guests and All Our Extended Ohana….

 

To all our valued partners, past and future guests and all our extended ohana,

 

We here at Keawe Adventures would like to share our deepest thoughts, aloha, empathy and concern for the recent and impending hurricanes throughout the continental United States of America.  We wish you all safe keeping for you and your families.  We wish you all safe recovery for all of you and your families.  Know that you are in our thoughts and we will send as much Hawaiian sunshine and Aloha to brighten this dark time.   Be safe and well everyone.

Aloha-

Keawe Adventures Staff

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A Celebration of Life – Herb Weatherwax

Who was Herb Weatherwax?  Who wasn’t “Uncle Herb” Weatherwax?  “Uncle Herb” Weatherwax was one of the handful of remaining  local  and Native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor military survivors, whom passed away just days after the commemorative 75th anniversary of Peal Harbor in December 2017.  As with this “Greatest Generation”, Uncle Herb’s life was one lead with dignity and grace.

Big Island Native Weatherwax was drafted into the Army in June 1941 and was stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.  On a weekend pass to Honolulu, Weatherwax bore witness to the events of December 7, 1941.   His military career would lead him to facing Germany’s Siegried Line and with his 272nd Regiment advancing into Germany, eventually freeing dying prisoners in labor camps.   After the war, Uncle Herb became a family man, business owner and ever-present Volunteer at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, helping to promote education and understanding.

“It is up to Survivors to perpetuate the history until we are gone. I am always learning from others and thought that someone might pick up one or two things from what I have gone through.” – Herb Weatherwax

On Saturday, June 3 2017, the National Parks Services at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center held a Celebration of Life in honor of their dedicated veteran, friend, uncle, volunteer, educator and legend.

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Family, friends and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center Employees gather for the celebration of Life!

An Auspicious date indeed as June 3 2017 would have been Uncle Herb’s 100th Birthday and June 2, 2017 would have been his 66th wedding anniversary!  Uncle Herb’s Wife was in attendance and got up several times to dance hula!

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Musical Entertainment was provided by Navy service members and a delicious spread of local grinds awaited guests prior to the program.

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I said delicious right?? Pictured here chicken katsu, kalua pork and lomi salmon from Kimo’s Akamai Catering.

At sunset the beautiful sound of the Pu (conchshell) and a marvelous ‘oli welcomed the guest of honor.  Uncle Herb’s photo was escorted in by the Knights of Columbus and a spirited program of song, dance, photos, and rememberance was to followed.

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I would like to believe that the heaven’s and Uncle Herb thanked us and was there in spirit.  Look at that exquisite sunset!  It was truly an honor and a gift to be able to attend this event as a representative for Keawe Adventures.

 

Kalei Scoggins

Operations Manager

Adventure Awaits with Keawe Adventures

When I joined Keawe Adventures, I knew that an exciting fast-paced work environment was ahead of me.  I also knew that the company was a leader in personalized custom activity tours.  What I didn’t know was that on my SECOND day on the job, I would have the most epic adventure day ever!  Keawe Adventures was participating in a Yelp video shoot as well as creating new content for their website.  We had the privilege to take out some guests on a full excursion tour of Oahu Island and I got to tag along.  EEK! EPIC!

Check out the stops and some awesome shots from our adventure day below.

DIAMOND HEAD CRATER

Diamond Head, or as the locals call it Le’ahi, was once the first US Military base in Hawaii. The crater itself used to also be home to historical music festivals that featured the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Elvis.   Now visitors and residents alike can enjoy a brief hike up the face of the mountain to its peak bunker which offers 360 degree views of Honolulu.

My suggestion is go in the morning,  as there is not much shade or coverage on the trail.   While the trail is MOSTLY moderate, there is definitely  a steep bit of stairs at the end.   The view is definitely work all the physical work to get there!

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FRESH CATCH

Ok, so what do most people want after some physical activity??  FOOD!!!  Luckily Makani Christensen, owner of Keawe Adventures, was keen on a great place to bring us.  Poke Bowls have long been a favorite in the islands, but have steadily been gaining popularity all over the world.  Fresh Catch hosts some of the best poke as well as variety on island.  It was delicious.

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PALI LOOKOUT

After a quick bite to eat, it was off to Pali Lookout, which boasts fantastic views of the windward side.  As the name suggests, it is also a very windy spot on island!  The Pali lookout is also home to a historical battle for the island of Oahu.  K43A9030.jpg

Did I mention that we were being carried around all day in a sweet ride?  Our chariot awaits!

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BYODO-IN TEMPLE

After a quick hop over the windward mountains, we headed towards the Northeast side of the island and to Byodo-In Temple.  This temple was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.  Here you can find a large brass peace bell and serene surroundings.

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Hey! There’s that awesome sprinter again!

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LAIE POINT & TURTLE BAY

After the Temple, we still headed towards our next adventure activity, but not without making two quick stops for some photos at Laie Point and Turtle Bay.  Can you see our group on the point? HI MOM!

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STAND UP PADDLE BOARD – HALEIWA NORTH SHORE

After some scenic stops, we finally made it to our next adventure activity – STAND UP PADDLE BOARD.  We were taken out on Haleiwa River which provided the perfect calm water for experts to novice to enjoy!  I have a weak ankle, however I was still able to go out with the group and enjoy the water.  Score!

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DINNER – Haleiwa Beach House Restaurant

Again, after any physical activity what does one want??  FOOD!  AND NOW A COCKTAIL!  So off we went to Haleiwa Beach House Restaurant for exquisite provisions.  So exquisite that we ate it all before getting some proper photos. This restaurant boasts great service, a fantastic view across from Haleiwa beach (perfect for sunset) and amazing food.  All in all it was the perfect ending to a perfect and wonderful day.

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If you are interested in an action-filled day I would definitely recommend this tour to you!  It certainly made for a memorable and epic second day on the job.  Adventure awaits everyone…..now go find it.

Kalei Scoggins

Operations Manager

 

 

Reflection Helicopter Crash Pearl Harbor 18 February 2016

One year ago today a Bell Ranger Helicopter made a ‘auto rotation’ controlled crash into the water of Pearl Harbor. I was approximately 100 yards incident. On board were a family from Canada & the pilot. The aircraft sank to the bottom in about 18’ feet of water. All onboard were able to exit the aircraft except 16-year-old Riley Dobson. The helicopter had flipped over once it sank & was resting on the bottom, blades down, skids up. Riley was stuck in the port side aft seat, with a twisted seat belt keeping him from a clean egress. I ran to the waters edge & met my friend who is a Federal Police Officer at the park. He was removing his gun belt & shirt. He told me that there was a person still in the chopper. We dove in, me headfirst like a dumb ass. I went straight to the fuselage from the dive. I swam through the front of the cabin thinking that Riley might be trapped there as sometimes the front seats of helicopters have ‘4-point’ seat belts that are harder to exit from. He was not there. We continued to dive taking turns trying to get Riley out of the aircraft. Finally we were handed a knife & took turns cutting the belt.

Riley was extracted after about 7 minutes. EMS assets had arrived & he was revived, at least for now. The following was written just for Riley about 2 weeks after the crash. I now feel the need to share as Riley Dobson would pass away 4 days later.

February 26th, 2016

“The following is kind of long & rambling; I don’t expect everyone to read it but I am struggling of late & it has been challenging to put Riley’s death behind me. I needed to share this, with someone, so why not my friends & Ohana which most of my FB friends are.

It’s been a year since we lost Riley Dobson in the crash of a Bell Ranger at Pearl Harbor. Its been tough for me, but I cant imagine what Riley’s family is experiencing. My friend Makani Christensen encouraged me to write about the crash & subsequent extraction of young Riley. Makani is a former Marine Officer, Annapolis Graduate & combat veteran of Iraq & Afghanistan and a mentor to me. He has seen combat, death & battle injuries so he knows what PTSD is first hand. His suggestion to put pen to paper has been a God Send. My mental issues pale in comparison to the men and women serving our country in the Armed Services, EMS, Fire & Police departments. In no way is my experience as heavy as what they go through, but I still needed to share my words to Riley with Ohana. I settled on writing a letter to Riley vs just telling the story of the crash & extraction.

Mahalo to everyone for your support & kind messages especially Vanessa Finland & Marcus & Mel Luttrell. I am no hero. I am positive all of you would have dove in to help Riley. Maybe it’s a surfing thing, a Hawaii thing, a Jax Beach thing but it’s just the way we all roll in our beach & island communities…

“We in Hawaii do not run from a fight, we run to it” I actually said that to George Stephanopoulos from ABC News when he asked why we ran to the crash. George is one reason I watch FOX News and not the liberal media but that is another story. He just does not understand surfers I am guessing.

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.” Marcus Luttrell said this in his book ‘Lone Survivor’. We watermen & women all have a tiny bit of SEAL strength in us. Never Quit…..

Love & God Speed-cg

Dear Riley,

We would have surfed together, gone spearfishing with Uncle Kevin Sakuda, skateboarded with Chase, Makena & Gary Owens, eaten Poke at Tamuras, gone fishing with Uncle Makani Christensen, gone freediving with Kurt Chambers, hiked Laie Falls with Kahana Pukahi, gone pig hunting with Uncle Stephen Dewald, paddled outrigger canoe with Denise Oceanplayground, worked the loʻi with Lisa Dewald, & Douglas A. Ka’ehuiki & Darren, go Big Island & mountain bike with Aunty Wendy Minor, ride horses in the Kahuku hills with Uncle Jim Russi, walk Chuck with Baja Brock, play herding with Carol Jaxon & Ed’s puppies Rudy & Wesson, celebrate an Awa Ceremony with Kiliona, work on a Koa canoe with Uncle Bobby, go Kauai & hike with Aunty Lisa Kaili Ledesma go for a surf lesson with Uncle Bruce Irons at Pinetrees, check out giant surf with Jamie Sterling or just hung with my boys on the North Shore. This is my Hawaii & it rips my heart open to think you won’t be able to join me. You would have fit in. You would have been one of the crew. You would have been accepted as Ohana into our crew.

I looked into your eyes as I struggled to get you out of that chopper and wanted to hear your story, to know you, to be your friend. We heard how hard you fought in the hospital; a true Hanai son of Hawaii. You were a warrior to the end. Canada must be proud…

Come to find out your were an awesome kid, a horseman, a show jumper, animal lover & friend to all who were lucky enough to know you.

We tried so hard to free you from that fuselage as fast as possible. Get you out so you could go surfing with me. I will never forgive myself for not holding my breath longer. I am so sorry it was not quicker.
A US sailor, a Federal Police officer and me, an old North Shore surfer fought hard to bring you to the surface but it was not fast enough. I wanted to be able to show you my Hawaii once we all stopped smelling like jet fuel. I am so sad this wont happen…
Hawaii weeps for your families’ loss but they need to know we are here if needed to “talk story” or just cry together. Everyone must know that you kept giving even after death. Many sick folks from Hawaii are now blessed with the “KoKo” from your organs.
So Pono…
I must confess I am selfish as I feel like I lost a potential little brother in you, a surf partner, dive buddy, paddler and a friend.

When I heard you left us on Monday I drove to the crash site at Pearl Harbor and floated flowers & placed a Lei on the shore where I had dove in to free you. I also scattered the ashes of my beloved puppy, Kolohe, so you two could hang out. He was a great dog; you will be best friends. Kolohe loved horses as you do. Take care of each other & someday we will surf, play on the beach & you can teach me to ride one of your show horses…
Rest in Peace my friend…

Love Chris

Valentines Day In Hawaii

Valentines day comes once a year.   It’s a time of opportunity and adventure. If you miss making a reservation or planning ahead, then it could be an adventure making things happen at the last minute.   For example, here in Hawaii most restaurants are booked 2 to 3 months in advanced.   Especially the fancy ones.   It is also an opportunity to shine.

This Valentines day let us help you create a magical moment for you and your significant other.   Enjoy an evening sail on one of our yacht with one of our private chiefs or watch the sunset at a remote beach.   How about a luau?   Hire a private chief to come to you.   The possibilities are endless.

If you are looking for adventure on Valentines day, how about a romantic horseback ride on one of the north shore beaches with a picnic lunch?   Hiking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, or private guided tour?   If you have an idea, then give us a call.

E Hele Lawaia (Let’s Go Fishing)

On Monday, I came into work and started the normal daily routine we do every morning. Makani wasn’t in the office yet. I started ordering tickets for tours, replying to emails, and other normal office stuff that I knew that needed to be taken care of for the day. Makani came in and took one look at me, he said “Good you got on board shorts, we’re going fishing today!” (What a hard job right?) Makani then told me that we (and by “we” I mean Makani because he knows how and where to fish the specific type we targeting) were going to be filming for a T.V. show called “Hawaii Goes Fishing.” I started getting all the gear ready; fly-fishing rods, spinner rod, tabbies (hard felt sole shoes for walking on reef so you don’t cut up your feet), and two throw nets. After getting all the gear in the truck, we were off to a secret fishing spot to hopefully find and catch an Oio (pronounced o-e-o) or bonefish, a prized fish that people come from all over the world to fish for in Hawaii. Now, I grew up fishing all my life but that was in lakes, rivers, and creeks on the mainland, but in Hawaii I spearfish, which is a very different skill set than using rods and reels. I was excited and intrigued to learn a new way to catch fish.

On the ride to the “secret spot,” (all spots are secret when fishing) Makani and I spoke about various laws and bills trying to be passed that will affect fishing here in Hawaii. This is a big part of the Hawaiian culture and fishing in order to provide for your Ohana. We pulled into the secret spot and we were met and greeted by Margo, the hostess, and Dean, the camera man, from “Hawaii Goes Fishing.” After getting all set up Makani gave a lesson on how to use a fly-fishing rod to Margo (and me) on camera. Makani is a self-taught fly-fisherman, who’s been doing this for 10+ years and has caught some amazing fish using a fly-fishing set up. As he was going over how to cast the rod and fly to Margo, I was intently listening. I’ve tried, and failed horribly, to fly fish before but never in the ocean. After listening to Makani for 5 minutes, I learned more about fly-fishing how to’s, the do’s, and the don’ts than I have in my 20 something years of fishing. Now that Margo had the jest of it down, Makani then went over the basics of using a throw net, another method of fishing used here in Hawaii. We started to walk out to the reef, so Makani could show the crew how to use a throw net to catch fish. “10 minutes or less and I know we’ll have fish,” Makani said half jokingly as we walked out.

On the way out we were all keeping an eye out for signs of fish, such as the tails of the Oio breaking the surface when they eat in shallow water ranging from 10 inches to waist deep.  As we were walking Makani, who was in the lead with the net, stopped and pointed out a school of Manini or Convict Tangs (side note: Margo had stated that she loved Maninis as they brought back childhood memories of fishing). He slowly crept forward trying not to spook the fish. Then, he slightly bent at the knees and in one fluid movement threw the net in a perfect cast, or throw, and landed it right on the school of Manini. He had at least caught about 15 good, pan-fry sized fish, so it was back to the shore to change our gear. Walking back in I thought to myself, “Ha, Makani was right! Only about 15 minuets to get fish using just the throw net, and most of that time was used on the walk out to the reef.”

Now, we broke out the fly-fishing rod and a spinner rod. Using two types of rods would increase our chances of getting the elusively prized Oio. Makani took the fly fishing rod and Margo used the spinner rod, with a simple set up of a small lead, a small hook, and some shrimp for bait. It was now go time with all the fishing gear. With Dean and I following Makani and Margo set up, we were hopeful to catch an Oio. As we walked the reef waiting for a bite, I kept watching Makani and how he was using the fly rod, intensively studying his movements. We were waiting and talking story (local slang for having conversations or sharing old memoires) when Margo started to get a nibble! Makani told Margo to wait for just the right moment to set the hook, as fish would nibble at the bait for a little bit before they fully bite down.  At the perfect moment Makani told Margo to reel in the fish. As Margo did, she stated she thought the fish came off, but as she reeled the line in we could see the fish swimming in towards us still on the hook.  As the fish got closer I could tell it was a Weke or better known as a Goatfish. Makani went to unhook the Weke, it twitched and jumped off the hook. “Ha that makes it easy,” Makani  said jokingly. I thought that we got some good video footage of us catching fish, now we was to get the Oio.

We fished for a few hours and Dean stated that his battery had about an hour left and we hadn’t got an Oio yet, so unfortunately we decided to head in. Makani was determined to catch an Oio, so as he was walking back to the truck wading through the water he continued to fish.  Margo, Dean and I walked back on shore; we talked story about as we waited for Makani to get back to the truck. This is when Makani came walking up with a shine in his eyes. “BRAH, get the net I just seen a school of like 30+ Oio,” Makani stated excitedly. He grabbed the net and headed back out. I threw back on my tabbies and ran to catch up so I could help. Following behind Makani, I was slowly moving to make sure I never spooked the fish. Makani froze and said that the fish were right in front of him! Again with a perfect throw, he threw the net right on two Oio. CHEEHOO!! As we wrangled the fish out of the net and into the bag Makani said, “Bra, look another Oio!” Slowly creeping up on another school, Makani got prepared into his stance to throw. After a second or two, he threw the net and landed another Oio. Now, with three Oio in the bag we decided to head in.  We got in, cleaned off the gear with a quick rinse, got the fish in the cooler with ice and brine. Makani stressed that this last step was super important to keep the fish fresh. After saying our good byes to Margo and Dean, Makani and I got into the truck and headed home. Not a bad day of work, I got to learn the basics of fly-fishing and watch my boss catch some fish in a traditional Hawaiian way, and in my opinion pretty bad arse technique. Lucky we live Hawaii nei!

-Jack Wells is a tour guide at Keawe Adventures. Between 2005-2009 he served in the US Marine Infantry and is an Iraq veteran.

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KEAWE’S HERO

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“KEAWE’S HERO”

Respected American writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself.” I agree that a hero is somebody who is selfless, but he is also generous in spirit and tries to give back as much as possible and help those around him.

Keawe Adventures employs only the exceptional and those who demonstrate such desired attributes on a daily work basis. Former professional surfer Chris Gardner is such a man and he would be called into action on a calm morning of February 18, 2016. At mid morning a Bell 206 helicopter loudly grounded and slammed into the glassy waters of Pearl Harbor 20 feet from shore. Chief warrant officer Ryan Rohner, who also flies Black Hawks in the Hawaii National Guard piloted the aircraft and carried four passengers inside. After the hard impact of the crash, the helicopter quickly sank, trapping a 16-year-old Riley Dobson of Ontario and tragically claiming his life.

At the time however, Chris Gardner did not know the condition of the boy who was still strapped in his seat. What he did know, was that the mother was able to swim safely from the wreckage and screamed her son was inside the helicopter. Without hesitation two men and Chris dove into the murky waters, about 10 ft deep. They took turns cutting the teenager’s seat belt from the back of the aircraft with a knife provided by a federal officer and pulled his limp body out.

Although the heroic effort to save a young boy was in vain and ended tragically, what this incident demonstrates is that altruism emerges in many disasters and many forms. Defining a hero is more difficult than defining a coward as it is not the everyday man or woman who will run into a hellish glory of bullets without a second thought and at the risk of their own life. This is why it is with pride that I can say that Chris Gardner is a selfless hero. He does not ask for recognition for his deed and reflects on that traffic event with regret in that they were unable to save the young man. Nevertheless, Chris Gardner is a hero. Chris is a friend. And I am proud to work with him at Keawe Adventures.

IMG_20160303_194219-2 -Kate Bodendorfer is a historic guide for Pearl Harbor and battle sights at Keawe Adventures. She has worked for the five-year veteran owned company for three years and studied Asia Pacific and Military History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Find Our Marines

 

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“Find Our Marines”

On Saturday January 23rd 2016 I was part of a Memorial Service/Continued search for our 12 Marines who were lost at sea following the collision of the two Helo’s (helicopters) carrying them on a training mission off the north shore of O’ahu, Hawaii. First off as a Marine veteran I know we leave no fellow Marine behind, no matter what we will bring our brothers and sisters home. Being able to help out our Marines is always an honor. The morning of the 23rd, I arrived too early to work. I remember feeling hope and that is the hope to find my fellow Marines. These are men who signed up to protect our country and way of life, men who risked it all every day to make sure that we have the freedoms so many of us take for granted. On that day, we got the truck loaded with supplies and headed to the location of the base camp, Keana Point on the north shore. When we got to the “Base Camp” area there were already some volunteers waiting. To see this many people this early in the morning to go look for our lost Marines was a humbling experience. As we set up our pop-up tent and linked up with the other volunteer organizations, more and more people started to show up. I remember thinking to myself how impressed I was that “Makani got all this set up in two days”. We established the shuttle service and started to set up for the prayer ceremony, which was a local Hawaiian Kumu (priest) doing the traditional Hawaiian ceremony called a Ha’ule Lani. This ceremony provided means of closure for many, as our search was being done after the official search had been called off and was now a recovery operation. The ceremony itself was very powerful. Makani gave an emotional speech and then did final roll call for our 12 Marines. I don’t think there was a dry eye in sight. To see the outpouring of love and support for our Marines from our local community was awe-inspiring. After the Ceremony everyone went to his or her respective search areas. I’ll never forget looking up toward the point and seeing so many people looking for debris, wreckage, anything at all and even god forbid our Marines. It wasn’t long until calls and texts started coming in. Questions like “is this part of the wreckage?” or “what about this?” were coming into base camp at about 1-5 texts every ½ hour or so. Then came a call about a parachute that had been found a little west of Mokuleia Beach Park. Makani and I immediately jumped into the truck and headed down to the area to check it out. Upon our arrival we found a group of volunteers and they pointed out something in the water. Makani and I were watermen and experienced (it was winter and the waves and current can be strong) and we jumped in without hesitation. Makani was smart enough to borrow a mask from some beach goers; once we got to the item we able to confirm it was a parachute and decided to pull it out. After going back to shore and retrieving my dive gear I was headed back out. However, unbeknownst to me at the time the Marines were alerted to our find, and when I got back with my dive gear in hand two Marines were present to help. A young Private first class and myself swam out to the chute and were able to cut it to get it off the reef and back on shore. It was then put in the Marines’ truck to be taken to Schofield to be checked out. After getting the chute out the water we returned to base camp. When we got back to base camp we had a small potluck and started to breakdown the camp. As we started our long drive home, both Makani and I sat in silence and let the whole day and the community’s support sink in. The amount of local support was mind-blowing and the support from all over the country was amazing. The Family that had discovered the chute had flown in from Kansas to help with the search, as the dad was a Marine veteran. It was a humbling day, from all the organizing done by Makani, to the volunteers, both the people who just heard about it thru Facebook and the volunteer originations such as Team Rubicon and Red White & Blue. This goes to show how much support the local community and this country has for our armed forces, these brave men and women who put them selves at risk everyday to protect our freedoms and way of life that many take for granted.

The selfless sacrifice of these 12 Marines is a solemn reminder of the price of Freedom.
Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
“FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS”

Jack Wells is a guide at Keawe Adventures. Between 2005-2009 he served in the Marine Infantry and is an Iraq veteran.

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