Steve Makoto Sakoda

1st Squadron 75th Cavalry

Attached to Company E 1-22 Infantry (Mechanized)

KIA 04/29/06

 

 

This was a challenging month for our brothers in the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment
as they dealt with the loss of two exceptional noncommissioned officers.   One of those was Sergeant Steve M. Sakoda from Hilo, Hawaii –
a squad leader in Bonecrusher Troop’s 2nd Platoon that was attached to our company.   He worked diligently to help us train the Iraqi Army
and secure the main supply route that our friendly forces use daily.   Their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

—Captain Patsky Gomez Commanding Officer Company E 1-22 Infantry

........................................................

 

SGT Steve Sakoda in Iraq

Photo from the Honolulu Star Bulletin

 

British paratrooper Pete McIntyre played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes during a Saturday memorial service
for Hawaii Sgt. Steve Sakoda at Camp Stryker, Iraq, in this photo released yesterday.
Sakoda, 29, of Hilo died after an Iraqi roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee on April 29.

Sgt. Steve M. Sakoda, of Hilo, died of injuries sustained in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle
during combat operations. Sakoda was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team,
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Sakoda grew up in a close-knit Hilo neighborhood in Waiakea. After graduating from Waiakea High School in 1994,
Sakoda joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and served as a warehouse clerk at Kanešohe Marine Corps Air Station.
In 2002, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Hawai'i-Hilo.
Sakoda was discharged from the Marine Reserve that same year, but in 2003 signed up with the Army National Guard in Hilo
as a radio operator for the headquarters company scout platoon of the 2nd Battalion 299th Infantry.
After a year with the Army National Guard, Sakoda signed up for active duty as an Army calvary scout,
and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sakoda was promoted to sergeant last year (2004) , and on Oct. 1, 2005 he was sent to Iraq.

IDAHO STATE JOURNAL VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

SGT Steve Sakoda

 

Soldier from Hilo loved life, military service

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — Steve Sakoda made people laugh, but also was a man to be taken seriously.

Before joining the military, he liked wild haircuts and would dance with whacky abandon because he didn't care what people thought of him.
He once used an ink marker to sketch a bikini top on his chest before heading out to paddle with the Keaukaha Canoe Club in Hilo.

Sakoda earned a black belt in karate and deliberately sought out infantry combat duty in Iraq.
His work as a cavalry scout with the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
took him "outside the wire" and into danger day after day.

On Saturday, Sakoda, 29, was killed by a bomb that detonated near his vehicle in a convoy in Baghdad.
He was the 15th service member who considered Hawai'i his home state to die in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait since military operations began.

At least 129 other service personnel with Hawai'i ties — including 43 Army personnel — have been killed in those countries.

"Steve loved his home, his friends and family. He always wanted to return home to Hawai'i and live his life surfing, paddling, fishing,
acting, partying and loving those dear to him," his wife, Michelle, said in a written statement released yesterday in Hilo.
"Everyone who has met him has been touched by his generous heart."

Sakoda grew up in a well-kept, close-knit Hilo neighborhood in Waiakea. He was the youngest of two children of the late Stephen and Keiko Sakoda.
His dad was a Big Isle police sergeant.

Longtime friend Jeremy Hough, 27, recalled surfing and fishing with his Waiakea High School classmate.
"He was a really good friend. I could count on him for anything," Hough said.

After graduating in 1994, Sakoda joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and served as a warehouse clerk at Kane'ohe Marine Corps Air Station.
He enrolled at the University of Hawai'i-Hilo and earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 2002.

Sakoda was discharged from the Marine Reserve that same year, but in 2003 signed up with the Army National Guard in Hilo
as a radio operator for the headquarters company scout platoon of the 2nd Battalion 299th Infantry.

Staff Sgt. Ha Chi worked with Sakoda in Hilo, and remembers him as a reliable soldier who learned quickly
and liked the tough challenges of serving with a scout unit. "You could tell he was one of those guys; he will do his duty,
he's not going to shirk his duty because it's dangerous or anything else," Chi said. "It's what you sign up to do, and you've got to do it."

After only a year with the Army National Guard, Sakoda signed up for active duty as a calvary scout, and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division
(Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. He married Michelle Vallente Castillo of Honoka'a in 2004.

Michelle Sakoda said her husband felt "the need to do more for his military comrades, the country and his family."

Chi said Sakoda deliberately shifted to active duty to get combat experience,
with a long-range plan of returning to the Army National Guard as an officer.

When he learned his old Hawai'i Guard unit was being activated to go to Iraq before his unit in the 101st,
Sakoda asked for a transfer back to the Guard unit so he could go with them, Chi said. The Army refused.

Sakoda was promoted to sergeant last year, and on Oct. 1 he was sent to Iraq.
His wife returned to the Big Island, working as a registered nurse at Hilo Medical Center.

Chi said he ran into Sakoda in Balad, Iraq, last summer and pointed out the tent where Sakoda's old Guard scout platoon was staying.
At 2 a.m., Sakoda visited the tent, sneaking up on each soldier as they slept and waking them. "Everybody was happy to see him," Chi said.

The soldiers exchanged what they had learned and talked about what they had seen. Sakoda seemed confident and professional, he said.

Michelle Sakoda said her husband "would always be a Hilo boy, no matter where he went."

"His dedication to the military and his aloha to everyone is genuine.
He will be remembered as the Hilo boy who lived his dream and did what he felt was right," she said.

"Steve wouldn't want to see those who cared for him to have a heavy heart and shed so many tears.
He would like them to smile and remember the life he lived and what a wonderful person he was."

Sakoda also is survived by his older sister, Stella Yuki Sakoda Hottendorf.

 

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com                       

 

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SGT Steve Sakoda's decorations

 

 

 

 

 

SGT Steve Sakoda was a 13F-Fire Support Specialist/Automatic Weapons Crewman

 

Photo from the Honolulu Star Bulletin April 15, 2007

 

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A 101st Airborne Division soldier from the Big Island was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee while on patrol
in Baghdad, the Army said Monday. Sgt. Steve M. Sakoda, 29, of Hilo, 29, was killed Saturday. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron,
75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Sakoda, a graduate of Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii-Hilo,
entered the Army in September 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell, Ky., in May 2004. In March 2005, Sakoda wrote a biography
before an interview for promotion to sergeant: "My short term goals are to achieve the position of E-5/Sergeant, deploy to Iraq with my men,
accomplish the mission and bring them home," he wrote. "My long term goals are to retire in the Army."

"This guy, he really, really had a sense of duty," said friend Al Konishi. Following high school graduation in 1994, Sakoda joined the
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, receiving an honorable discharge eight years later. He then joined the Army National Guard and switched
to the active Army in 2004. Sakoda is remembered as an amateur actor with an offbeat sense of humor. "He was a real spirited part
of the community," UH-Hilo drama professor Jackie Pualani Johnson said. "I'd call him intense. Intensely serious, but intense in a funny way, too.
He had that kind of wonderful, funny attitude toward everything."

Sakoda, a paddler and steerer for the Keaukaha Canoe Club, is survived by his wife, Michelle, a native of Honokaa
and a registered nurse at Hilo Medical Center, and his sister Stella.

-- Family, friends and servicemen bid farewell to Sgt. Steve Makoto Sakoda on Saturday in an emotional military burial for the first Hilo man
killed in Iraq. "Thank you to everyone, because I know he touched a lot of people," his sister, Stella Yuki Sakoda Hottendorf, said
during a ceremony at the Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. Prior to the service, his widow, Michelle Castillo Sakoda and Hottendorf drove
around town and to the beaches with her husband's remains, to the places where he loved to go. An urn containing Sakoda's ashes
were carried to a table that was flanked by two folded flags and his medals earned in service. His military portrait was set on the ground,
near his combat boots and helmet.

"We are gathered here on this day to honor and tribute the life of Sgt. Steve Sakoda, a husband, a brother, a son, a grandson, a friend,
a comrade at arms, and a soldier," said military chaplain Capt. Clint Black, who is based at Schofield Barracks. Staff Sgt. Ha Chi,
who recently returned from Iraq with the National Guards 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry Regiment, remembered Sakoda when he was in
the Guards scout platoon. "When there was work to be done, he was a hard worker. If there was something that needed to be done, he'd do it,"
Chi said. "He loved the military. He was real proud to serve, and it was something that he always wanted to do."

Sakoda was born and raised in Hilo. He graduated from the University of Hawaii-Hilo with a bachelors degree in communications in 2002.
Sakoda joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve a few months after graduating from Waiakea High School and received an honorable discharge
eight years later. Gerard Lee Loy, a Hilo attorney, was Sakoda's canoe coach in 2000 and 2001. He said Sakoda threw a big party
on the beach in 2003 for the state canoe championships. "He had the music and some speakers, all at his own expense. He put it on
for everybody that came for states," Lee Loy said. "The 9/11 attacks really affected him because he didn't want to go to Afghanistan
to kill people. He wanted to help them out."

___ Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hilohawaiitribune.com

-- While in college, Steve M. Sakoda played an abusive boyfriend in an anti-violence play written by director Jeri Gertz.
"He was so goodhearted about it. He did it so he could show teens there was another way," Gertz said. "He really was interested
in conflict resolution." Sakoda, 29, of Hilo, Hawaii, was killed by a roadside bomb April 29 in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Campbell.
He liked wild haircuts and would dance with whacky abandon. Sakoda once used an ink marker to sketch a bikini top on his chest
before heading out to paddle with the Keaukaha Canoe Club in Hilo. He earned a black belt in karate and was universally known as "Scrotie."
After graduating high school in 1994, Sakoda joined the Marine Corps Reserve and served as a warehouse clerk. He then earned
a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Hawaii-Hilo in 2002 and signed up with the National Guard in 2003.
"Steve wouldn't want to see those who cared for him to have a heavy heart and shed so many tears," said his wife, Michelle.
"He would like them to smile and remember the life he lived and what a wonderful person he was."

 

From the JSOnline website

 

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Sgt. Steve Sakoda is flanked by his wife, Michelle, left,
and his sister, Stella Sakoda Hottendorf.

 

Photo from the Honolulu Star Bulletin May 2, 2006

Star Bulletin

 

Hilo wife remembers warrior's tender side

Steve loved his home, his friends and family. He always wanted to return home to Hawaii and live his life surfing, paddling,
fishing, acting, partying and loving those dear to him. Everyone who has met him has been touched by his generous heart.
He always tried to help others solve their problems, lent a hand when others needed help, made people laugh and smile
with his "crazy and wacky" ways and most of all, made sure that everyone was taken care of. By many, he will be remembered
as "Scrotie," a nickname that has stuck with him since his high school days. Even his comrades would sometimes refer to him
as Sergeant Scrotie. Steve, a k a Scrotie, said that he would always be a Hilo boy, no matter where he went. His dedication
to the military and his aloha to everyone is genuine. He will be remembered as the Hilo boy who lived his dream and did
what he felt was right. He always told his wife to "smile for me" when times were tough. Steve wouldn't want to see
those who cared for him to have a heavy heart and shed so many tears. He would like them to smile
and remember the life he lived and what a wonderful person he was.


-- Michelle Sakoda

 

from the Honolulu Star Bulletin May 2, 2006

Star Bulletin

 

 

 

Slain Big Isle soldier was a peace advocate

The Waiakea grad hoped to fly copters in the Army Guard




By Rod Thompson and Gregg K. Kakesako
rthompson@starbulletin.com | gkakesako@starbulletin.com

HILO ╗ Army Sgt. Steve Makoto Sakoda, 29, of Hilo, killed Saturday in Iraq by a roadside bomb, wanted to foster
peaceful means of resolving conflicts, said Hilo writer and director Jeri Gertz.

In 2001, attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo, he played an abusive boyfriend in an anti-violence play written by Gertz.

"He was so good-hearted about it. He did it so he could show teens there was another way," Gertz said.
"He really was interested in conflict resolution."

Friends said Sakoda was also strongly influenced by his father, Stephen, a sergeant in the Hawaii County Police Department
who died of cancer in 2001 before his son graduated from college.

"He took his father's death very hard," said John Leite, a friend of the father who saw the son cry at the funeral.

Sakoda's mother, Keiko, died in 1996.

He completed eight years in the Marine Corps Reserve. Then, motivated by the attack on the World Trade Center in New York,
Sakoda joined the National Guard in 2003, switching to the active Army in 2004, his wife, Michelle, wrote in a short biography.

"My short-term goals are to achieve the position of E5/sergeant, deploy to Iraq with my men, accomplish the mission and bring them home,"
Sakoda wrote in a 2005 application to be promoted to sergeant. "My long-term goals are to retire in the Army."


"Steve had always wanted to become 'Sgt. Sakoda,' just like his father," Michelle Sakoda wrote.

Sakoda could also be "intensely funny," said UH-Hilo drama professor Jackie Johnson.

Gertz remembered him during his college days wearing his hair in an enormous mass, sometimes dyed orange, sometimes dyed blue.

He was universally known as "Scrotie." Despite its anatomical sound, he assured Gertz, "It's not what you think."
He never explained the meaning to her. In Iraq he was called "Sgt. Scrotie."

Johnson said he loved doing improvisational theater exercises, pretending, for example, to be an astronaut in an ice cream parlor.

Born Dec. 30, 1976, in Hilo, the younger of his parents' two children after his sister, Stella, Sakoda graduated from Waiakea High School
in 1994 and joined the Marine Corps Reserve a few months later.
He graduated from UH-Hilo in 2002, met his wife-to-be, Michelle Vallente Castillo, the next year and married her in 2004.

At UH-Hilo, Sakoda had considered being a deejay or journalist, but he also liked the idea of flying helicopters, said Gertz.

In 2003 he transferred from Marine Reserve to the National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team and later went on active duty.

In the National Guard, he had wanted to fly in combat.


"It was all part of his plan and goals," said Staff Sgt. Ha Chi, who served in the same Hawaii Army National Guard platoon in 2003.
"He decided to switch over to active duty and to learn more skills. He then planned to go to OCS (officer candidate school).
Then he wanted come back and get back into his unit in Hilo."

Chi said Sakoda tried to get back into the 29th Brigade when it was activated in 2004, "but the Army wouldn't allow it."

Waiakea classmates, Chi and Sakoda served in the scout platoon, assigned to Headquarters & Headquarters Company,
2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry.

Chi saw Sakoda last summer when they accidentally bumped into each other at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq.
"He came over to where all his old platoon soldiers were staying, and we all talked for a long time," Chi said.

"He still was on track. He had been promoted to sergeant. He sounded motivated, on track, talking about flying helicopters
with the Hawaii Guard when he got through with Iraq. He wanted to come home and join up with us."

On Saturday, Sakoda, 29, was killed by a homemade bomb while serving the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment,
101st Airborne Division.

He was the second islander to be killed in Iraq within a week, and from the same division. Staff Sgt. Metodio Bandonill, 29,
was killed April 24 in Baghdad when a homemade bomb exploded by his Humvee.

Thirty soldiers, two sailors, 50 Marines and one civilian with Hawaii ties have been killed in Iraq since the war started in March 19, 2003.

Fifteen soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, as well as 10 Marines and six sailors.

 

from the Honolulu Star Bulletin May 2, 2006

Star Bulletin

 

 

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Hawaii Medal of Honor

 

On April 20, 2007 the State legislature of Hawaii awarded the Hawaii Medal of Honor to Sergeant Steve Sakoda.
The medal, designed by Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Pollick, historian for the Hawaii Army National Guard, features
the state coat of arms and the Maltese Cross, which depicts four axes of the globe,
representing Hawaii as the crossroads of the Pacific.

 

Photo from the Honolulu Star Bulletin April 15, 2007

 

 

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Steve Sakoda is buried at the Hawaii Veterans Cemetery No. 2, Kaneohe, Honolulu County

 

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