U.S. Senator Dan Inouye on hand to see defense committee handiwork
Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
The Army National Guard celebrated the acceptance of six new Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at a dedication event in Hilo on Tuesday.
On hand to witness the blessing were Hawaii’s senior U.S. Senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka. Inouye, who sits on the nations’ Defense Subcommittee and also chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, was honored for his efforts. Inouye gave a brief “keynote address” during the event held at the Army Aviation Support Facility No. 2 by the Hilo Airport.
The Black Hawks are an upgrade compared to the machinery the National Guard has received from the government in the past. According to the Hawaii Army National Guard, the UH-60M “culminates moire than 30 years of technological advancement, improved performance and real world experience… With the integration of the U.S. army’s Future Combat Systems and automated aircraft health monitoring, the UH-60M provides superior vertical lift and is the ‘intelligent’ choice for the battlefield of tomorrow.”
In addittion to supporting military operations, the Black Hawks may be deployed in Hawaii during emergency situations, like they were when they were used to survey the coast during the February tsunami alarm.
Joining the senators as honored guests: Hilo’s Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Hawaii National Guard, Brigadier General Gary Hara, Colonel Stephen Logan of 103d Troop Command, and Thomas Nicholas, the director of the National Guard Business Development who markets Sikorsky products.
The ceremony included the symbolic passing of the log book from Sikorsky to Inouye and eventually to the National Guard.
Kahu William Davis blessed the helicopters in the traditional Hawaiian fashion. Afterwards, the University of Hawaii-Hilo Samoan Club entertained the crowd, and Frank Degele, Jr. and Keonaona played some Hawaiian style music.