State Senator Earns Military Promotion

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State Sen. Kai Kahele was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Hawaiʻi Air National Guard on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. PC: Office of Sen. Kai Kahele

Hawai‘i state Sen. Kai Kahele over the weekend was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force (USAF), Hawai‘i Air National Guard.

In a private ceremony held Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Sen. Kahele, who has served as a USAF pilot and commissioned officer for 18 years, issued a statement.

“It is an honor to continue to serve my state and country in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard,” the senator said. “I am extremely thankful for my family, my wife Maria and my daughters, who have sacrificed and supported me throughout my military career. This promotion is for them.”


The oath and assumption of rank were administered by fellow pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Augugliaro, at the F-22 Missing Man Formation on the waterfront of historic Hickam Air Force Base.

Kahele, who is currently running to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives, is a decorated combat veteran with multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2005. He has flown 108 combat sorties, logged 3,075 hours of military flight time, commanded C-17 combat missions and is the recipient of the Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

He has previously been named both Pacific Air Forces Guard Officer of the Year and Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Officer of the Year. He is assigned to the 201st Air Mobility Operations Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base.


Kahele currently serves as majority floor leader and chairman of the Committee on Water and Land in the state Senate, where he represents his hometown of Hilo. Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District encompasses Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kauaʻi, Niʻihau and the rural parts of Oʻahu, including Waimanālo, Kailua, Kāneʻohe, the North Shore and the leeward coast.

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