Hawaii’s flags will be flown at half-staff tomorrow, according to Governor Linda Lingle’s proclamation yesterday. Lingle, Hawaii’s first Republican governor in decades and the state’s first female governor, has issued an order that all United States and Hawai’i state flags throughout the island state be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset. This includes all flags at state, county and federal buildings.
The governor’s order is in honor of Sgt. Alexander U. Gagalac. Sgt. Gagalac was from Wahiawa on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He was killed in Iraq earlier this month when his Humvee was attacked. Sgt. Gagalac was part of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
“Our hearts are saddened by the loss of one of our native sons,” said Governor Linda Lingle. “Our state and our nation are grateful for Sgt. Gagalac’s service and will always remember the sacrifice he made fighting for freedom and democracy. On behalf of the people of Hawai’i, I extend my deepest condolences to Sgt. Gagalac’s family and friends.”
Sgt. Gagalac was a “Hawaii boy,” graduating from Leilehua High School and a university student at Leeward Community College on Oahu. Tomorrow, Sgt. Gagalac will be burried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
“Alexander rose to the call of duty by joining the United States Army along with his twin brother, Alexis Gagalac,” says Governor Lingle’s proclamation. “Though facing dangerous conditions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Alexander honorably chose to re-enlist this past summer.”
“Our great nation exists because of brave patriots such as Alexander,” the proclamation continues. “Our hearts and prayers go out to Alexander’s family and to his fellow soldiers, who nobly dedicate their lives to protecting our freedom and providing liberty to others. Out of deep respect and gratitude, we mourn the passing and honor the memory of Sgt. Alexander U. Gagalac.”
President Bush signed a law into effect this past June that gave authority to the governor of a state to order the United States flag to be flown at half staff following the death of a member of the Armed Forces who died while on active duty. The state of Hawaii has an additional law that allows the Hawaii state flag to also be lowered whenever someone from Hawaii died in action. So far, over 2500 soldiers have died while serving in Iraq, not counting nearly 80,000 civilians (according to IraqBodyCount.com).
Schofield Barracks covers 17,000 acres on the island of Oahu. Sgt. Gagalac was a part of the 25th Infantry Division, which as called Schofield Barracks its home since 1941. Over 14,000 people live on Schofield Barracks.