Monday | August 21, 2017
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UH-Manoa football: Combat mindest for Lightning Warriors

Kelii “KK” Padello’s worlds collided Saturday at Schofield Barracks, in a good way.

For him, summer camp comes twice while he’s in college, and we’re not talking about the carefree kind your parents send you to when you’re a kid.

In addition to being a member of the University of Hawaii football team, Padello is a private first class in Alpha Company of the 29th Brigade’s Support Battalion. His job with the Army National Guard is 88 Mike, which translates into civilianese as truck driver. His job with the Rainbow Warriors is defensive end.

Padello recently completed his two weeks of Army annual active duty training, at Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island. Later this month, training for the upcoming football season starts.

Saturday was a melding of his two endeavors, as the UH team spent most of the day training with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield. The activity was called “Operation: Lightning Warriors,” a marriage of the “Tropic Lightning” moniker of the 25th and UH’s nickname.

Coach Nick Rolovich, with a big organizational assist from retired Col. Trey Johnson, had his team spend a day at Schofield again, as it did last year. Johnson is an adjunct professor at UH who teaches leadership courses based on military principles.

“He really did a lot for this, this year and last year,” Rolovich said of Johnson, who was a strength and conditioning coach at UH when Rolovich was a Warriors quarterback. “He was with us back in 2000 and 2001, and we’re fortunate to have him helping us now.”

The rest of the team got a taste of what Padello began to learn two summers ago in the dusty heat of basic training at Ft. Benning, Ga., home of the infantry. The former Mililani High standout said the training translates well.

“Definitely. As far as being in the military helps in football, there’s leadership, reliability, being organized and accountability,” he said. “Those are all important in both.”

The players were transported by helicopter to training areas where they negotiated obstacle courses that for some challenged fears, including that of heights. They also took on a leadership reaction course that tests the ability to accomplish a mission with limited and dwindling resources, such as a small unit might encounter in combat.

The military’s nature of personal sacrifice was acknowledged early in the day. After the players and a group of soldiers led by Sgt. Gerhard Borabora of Nanakuli performed ha’a and haka for each other, the team was welcomed by Vietnam veteran Allen Hoe of Maunawili.

Hoe spoke to the players at the facility named for his son — 1st Lt. Nainoa Hoe was killed by an insurgent sniper’s bullet in Iraq while he served as a platoon leader in 2005.

“He was one of you, a UH graduate,” Allen Hoe — himself a holder of two degrees from Manoa — told the team. “He didn’t play football, but he was on the field, with the color guard.”

Hoe’s other son, Nakoa, was also in attendance Saturday. He’s a sergeant in the famed 100th Infantry Battalion.

“I think it’s nothing but positive,” Nakoa Hoe said of the Nainoa Hoe Mission Training Complex. “It’s a great honor that this is named after my brother, a place that continues to train soldiers. There’s no better way to remember his legacy.”

Allen Hoe and 25th Infantry commanders told the UH players to enjoy the day.

And they did — even those who at first struggled with some parts of the obstacle course achieved more than they thought they could, with encouragement from their teammates.

“They were super,” Allen Hoe said afterward. “The main thing is they took our advice and they had fun. For me, the most interesting thing was when they had something with no immediate solution they started doing something, and tried to figure out a solution instead of just standing around doing nothing.”

Rolovich said the exercise also helped the players gain an appreciation for the military.

“We call ourselves Warriors, and we are,” he said. “But now there will be a little bit different perspective, and shows it’s not too hard to do the right thing.”

Padello is enrolled in ROTC at UH and plans on a career as an Army officer after graduation.

“Being here with my teammates today with the military is very humbling,” he said. “I went through basic and everything, but it’s good to see my teammates are able to group up like the military and accomplish the task.”

 

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