19 soldiers return home for Christmas after 9 months abroad
HONOLULU — Nineteen U.S. Army soldiers were reunited with loved ones just in time for Christmas following a nine-month deployment in the Middle East.
Family and friends greeted the soldiers Monday night, Christmas Eve, as they returned to Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
The soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division weren’t due back until Saturday, but Maj. Gen. Ronald P. Clark told staff to do all they could to get them home before Christmas, a division spokesman said.
Getting home included a military flight from Kuwait to Ireland and commercial flights crossing the Atlantic and then the Pacific.
“It took a team effort across the services to get them home,” said Lt. Col. Curtis Kellogg.
The soldiers were serving with the Postal Platoon of the 259th Human Resources Company, supporting postal operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
“All the mail coming into Iraq came to us, and we pushed it out to the (Army post offices) either through trucks or air pallets through flight,” said 1st Lt. Shenicquia Fulton. “We started a new system that decreased the timeline from 14 days down to seven days.”
Fulton said she is proud of what her team accomplished, but she’s happy to be home.
“Just seeing the smiles on their faces makes everything worth it,” Fulton said.
Maui police chief: Officers justified in deadly shooting
WAILUKU, Maui — Maui police officers were justified in the deadly shooting of a man who was wanted on an attempted murder warrant, an official said.
Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said 26-year-old Kaulana “Toji” Reinhardt appeared to be complying with officers’ orders before he reached for a handgun and was shot by police Sunday in a Wailuku neighborhood.
Reinhardt had been struggling with an officer, and he was hit as gunshots were exchanged, police said. Officers began efforts to revive Reinhardt until medics arrived. He died at a hospital.
The number of shots fired during the exchange is still under investigation.
Police had been searching for Reinhardt, who was wanted on several arrest warrants, including first-degree attempted murder and probation violations.
Police had been told by confidential informants and others close to Reinhardt that “he was carrying a gun and he was going to shoot it out with the police if he was ever stopped,” said Clyde Holokai, an acting assistant chief.
“There was no real winner in this situation,” he said.
Reinhardt was spotted driving a stolen red pickup truck, and police pursued him. The truck collided with another vehicle during the chase but kept going.
Reinhardt later crashed in the front yard of a house, where the shooting occurred. The pursuit lasted about 12 minutes, said Ricky Uedoi, an acting assistant chief.
No bystanders were injured during the encounter. One officer sustained minor injuries.
Two officers were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in police shootings.
“Any time there is a loss of life, it is a tragedy, and the Maui Police Department takes it seriously,” Faaumu said. “Our heartfelt condolences to all of those affected by the incident.”