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Legacy of honor

Son receives dad’s award, adopts call to serve

David Kaohi, a Honolulu mail processing clerk, displays the Congressional Gold Medal he recently received on behalf of his late father.

The legacy of “the greatest generation” is that of service to their country.

Word War II veteran Dudie Ono Kaohi left that spirit of service and more to his son, David Kaohi, a mail processing clerk at the Honolulu Processing and Distribution Center.

In February, David accepted the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award presented by Congress — on behalf of his father, who died in 2013.

The medal was awarded posthumously to Dudie in recognition of his military service almost eight decades ago when the Hawaii native served as an Army infantryman in the war’s Pacific theater.

David received the medal during a pandemic-postponed ceremony in which Chinese American military vets were presented with the overdue honor. More than 1,000 people, including retired military dignitaries, family members and a handful of surviving veterans, attended.

“What my dad went through was an historic event, and it was nice to see him finally recognized for his contribution,” David said.

For years, Chinese Americans like Dudie were discriminated against in the United States, yet thousands volunteered to fight for their country.

David said when his father returned home, he didn’t receive any credit for his service: “When he came home from the Army, he just came home. There was no recognition.”

Like his father, David also served in the Army as an infantry soldier, completing tours in Vietnam and then in Germany during the Cold War.

Also like his dad, David felt he never got proper recognition for his military service, as the sacrifices of many Vietnam-era veterans went unacknowledged at the time.

That didn’t deter him from answering the call of duty again when he joined USPS in 1990. He’s racked up 35 years of federal service, with no real plan to hang up his spurs.

David, who said he appreciates everyone who chooses to serve in uniform, is pleased the Postal Service employs many veterans and makes an effort to properly recognize them.

“I never really celebrated Veterans Day before,” he said. “But I’m glad USPS chooses to honor our veterans on that day.”

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