Friday, April 08, 2011

Navy, Community Leaders Welcome French Ship FS Prairial

By DC Smith, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

HONOLULU (NNS) -- The French military surveillance ship FS Prairial (F 731) made a port call at pier 9 at Aloha Tower Marketplace on, April 1.

The ship was in Hawaii to participate in the Navy's Koa Kai 11-2 exercise of Commander, Destroyer Squadron Group (COMDESRON)31.

The frigate Prairial is the principal vessel of the French Navy, based in Papeete, Tahiti.

Cmdr. Nicolas Pitrat, the commanding officer of Prairial, hosted Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle; Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific; Capt. Richard Kitchens, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam; Capt. Tim Close, acting commandant of 14th Coast Guard; Cmdr. Joseph Keenan, commanding officer of USS Crommelin (FFG 37), the Navy host ship for Prairial; and Patricia Lee, French consul, for a luncheon.

"I was pleased to have the French ship Prairial take part in the ship-maneuvering portion of the Koa Kai 11-2 exercise. Their participation greatly improved our joint maritime operational capacity as well as reinforced the already strong bond our two countries share," said Capt. David A Welch, commodore of COMDESRON 31.

"Koa Kai was a great success, and we look forward to future opportunities to work with our international maritime partners," he said.

During the evening ceremony, Genro Kashiwa, a WWII 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran who fought in France, was awarded France's highest award, the Legion of Honor.

Kashiwa, who was assigned as platoon guide of the First Platoon of Company "L," Third Battalion, was honored for his gallantry in action on April 5, 1945.

According to an excerpt from his citation, 'Catching enemy soldiers 10 yards away from their machine guns, he rushed forward and cut the Germans off from their weapons. He quickly seized an enemy machine gun and fired it on the fleeing soldiers, forcing them to seek shelter in a reinforced bunker.'

Kashiwa spoke about his war experiences during the program which also included a French military honor guard and a "haka" dance performance.

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