Yesterday (1 JUN 2010), a friend of mine called me just to say hello, and to tell me that he was thinking of me.
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Mike Kalua and I grew up on different islands together (grin). He was a son of Heeia – the southeastern shore of Oahu near Kaneohe; I was a step-child of Maui – the rebellious type who might do well to spend some time in the military… (grin) In reality, I was drafted in 1968.
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We met in 1968 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and our relationship grew over poker games he and his roommates hosted at their house in Spring Lake. We were both students of the Special Forces Training Group… he was a class ahead of me in the communications course – learning Morse code and tactical military communications. When he graduated, he went to the 7th Special Forces Group (SFG) which concentrated on the Central and South American regions. A bit later, I graduated from the communications course myself and was assigned to the 6th SFG.
The poker games were held at a two story home in Spring Lake that he was renting with three or four other island boys. The games were held every weekend… or every other weekend… I can’t recall.
After a while, the games quit running (the crowd that gathered there was getting out of control – 20~25 drunken SF students and group guys), and Mike and I lost track of each other.
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He called me over to his car while I was walking on Ardennes Street on Fort Bragg one day as he was driving by, and he indicated he was heading for Panama. I wished him well.
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Skip forward to 1977 (I’m married to my wonderful Okinawan wife, Miko, after my first tour there, and we have a son, Joseph, 18 months old) … I met him at Fort Bragg by accident. I asked him what he was doing up north so far from home (Panama); he said just a bit of training. At about the same time, I interviewed with a fellow named Steve Mozian, who was looking for highly motivated and innovative communications guys to join him in a classified assignment right here on Fort Bragg. I was pumped to be involved and reported as ordered in a few days.
There was Mike … that rascal. Steve had recruited him from Panama …
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We spent a couple of years there building a communications section to support the tactical maneuver elements and links to other command and control elements not immediately deployed with us (higher headquarters).
I met many good guys there who aren’t with us any longer – Mike Hendrick, for instance. He complained of fuzzy vision before a major qualification exercise (we had to pass certain national standards to become fully authorized to perform our missions of a sensitive nature). Upon further review and testing at Walter Reed Hospital, he was diagnosed with a cancer in his brain that was sometimes visible to MRIs and nowhere to be found in other MRIs. Mike Kalua, Dave Pitts, and myself drove up to escort him home. He had lost all his hair. He asked me not to tell Miko (who cut his hair – she was a practicing beautician by this time and doing a lot of the guys’ hair)…
A few weeks later Mike Hendrick passed on.
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Randy Bullock was another character. He was still assigned to that classified organization when he had a heart attack and died several years ago. He was a crazy guy who was a terror on the volleyball court – especially to the guys on the same side of the court as he – he wanted to play anything within 10 feet of him and would crash through teammates to make the play… !
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John Yancy was one of the tactical maneuver guys who was a former Special Forces communications specialist and a Vietnam veteran. He was a red-headed guy who ended up with the nickname of Robert Redford. He once stumbled into the commo section during a deployment by mistake and ended up in the same bed as Don Chrisman. They were both so drunk, neither one complained…!
John was killed in an accidental shooting on a range in the early days of our organizational development.
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Well, Mike Kalua joined them all yesterday. Not 45 minutes after he called me, Margie (his wife) called to indicate she was on the way to the hospital with Mike – they had called for an ambulance. Later in the day, I called his house and his youngest daughter, Malia, answered – when I inquired about how her dad was doing, she told me he had died.
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I have not doubt where he is and what condition he is in… he had two heart surgeries several years back and was on kidney dialysis three times a week for the last two or three years… I’m glad he’s now whole and in perfect health.
I know he is fully restored and enjoying a new beginning and preparing to welcome all his friends when it’s our time, and we get called home. So, although it is a time of grief for those of us who will miss him dearly, it is comforting to know his pain, anxiety, and agony are over, and that he is reaping his eternal reward for all the good things he did here for others – and not necessarily only those who knew him, but many who depend on people like Mike Kalua to keep our streets safe and our country free.
God bless Mike Kalua . . .
View a short 90 second video here …
He is working a field day with the Cape Fear Amateur Radio Society and his son, Mike Jr.