‘Local boy’ wants PTA to be a good steward

  • Lt. Col. Loreto V. Borce Jr., commander at U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area, addresses the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce in Hilo Friday. (Nancy Cook Lauer/West Hawaii Today)
  • Lt. Col. Loreto V. Borce Jr., commander at U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area, addresses the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce in Hilo Friday. (Nancy Cook Lauer/West Hawaii Today)

HILO — Self-proclaimed “local boy” Lt. Col. Loreto V. Borce Jr., commander at U.S. Army Garrison Pohakuloa Training Area, hit the ground running when he took over PTA in late May, with goals of readiness, workforce and community.

Borce, guest speaker Friday at a Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce luncheon, emphasized his work connecting with the community, some of whom have been concerned about military operations’ impact on the environment at PTA, which sits in the saddle between Maunakea and Mauna Loa.

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“I really believe my center of gravity is the local community and telling the Army’s story, sharing the Army’s story, telling what we’re doing,” Borce said. “We’re being good stewards of the land. Yes, we are training, yes we are shooting artillery, we’re dropping bombs but we’re trying to be good stewards.”

Borce, born in Honolulu, and known as “J.R.” to those close to him, is responding to concerns of the community. Because he wants to maintain continuity, he’s asked the Army to give him another year beyond the customary two years commanders are assigned to bases.

He’s formalized a partnership with Girl Scouts of Hawaii and the Boy Scouts Aloha Council so the Army can assist with the two groups on service projects, special events and similar cases where manpower and labor are in high demand.

He brought in an Osprey aircraft to demonstrate to Waimea residents who were concerned about their use on the island.

And, he’s been meeting with Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, antiwar activists and others who are concerned about the Army’s impact at PTA.

Not all the activists have been satisfied with outreach efforts. Longtime antiwar activist Jim Albertini, founder of Malu Aina Center for Non-violent Education &Action, for example, pushes for the complete demilitarization of Hawaii. He’s frequently protested outside PTA’s gates and other areas where the military is active.

Kimo Wheeler, an Army special operations veteran and a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, praised Borce for reaching out to the community. Wheeler emphasized he was speaking only for himself, not for the order.

“J.R. has opened the door to us … Now we have someone in place who’s opened the door, it’s refreshing to have someone like J.R. who has done this,” Wheeler said. “A lot of what you may call activists served in the military, served honorably. We love the United States, but our blood is Hawaiian. And that’s why we’re just trying to say, we don’t want to lose this. We don’t want to lose what we have up here as far as spiritual and cultural things. And that’s what J.R. and the people of Pohakuloa now are trying to preserve.”

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Borce acknowledged that the military and the activists have not always seen eye-to-eye.

“Ultimately, all I’m doing is trying to bridge that gap and being transparent,” he said. “That’s part of being a local boy growing up. … We still have a kuleana to take care of that land.”

  1. blunt TrUth November 17, 2018 4:07 am

    Yes, better stewardship through bombing…


    1. JTTRI November 19, 2018 10:12 am

      And what you do ??


      1. blunt TrUth November 19, 2018 2:54 pm

        I pick up trash and plant trees and edible landscaping. You?


  2. Kaipo Wall November 17, 2018 12:22 pm

    LTC Borce will never be able to build a bridge with those whom will not accept any compromise . Whose long stated goal and opposition to PTA and the military in general is the complete ‘demilitarization’ of Hawaii . Never mind leaving it vulnerable and helpless in the face of either Russian or Chinese aggression , which the anti-mils think could never happen . LTC Borce needs to look at the Kaho’olawe model . It took the anti-mils a long time but they finally prevailed , against a weak U.S. Armed Forces Civil Affairs effort and lack of FedGov resolve. J.R. is dreaming if he thinks these people will ever give up their fight against what he represents , in that uniform . Only the passage of time and their natural deaths will silence their demands . Beware of the grim reaper knocking , you old men .


    1. Old Man November 17, 2018 3:06 pm

      It is the military that defends the right of Jim Albertini and his gang to protest. Try this in Russia or China and see what happens.


      1. antifaHI November 17, 2018 11:46 pm

        Bullshit. We are fighting corporate wars. Our military is a standing army positioned in nearly every country of the world. 9/11 still happened. We lose these wars left and right. Create more animosity. Burn through taxes and pile up unneeded hardware. While the Russians hack our networks with ease and vets are tossed aside like broken toys. Hooray!


        1. JTTRI November 19, 2018 10:14 am

          FU Loser, go put your black mask on.


          1. antifaHI November 19, 2018 10:36 pm

            Says the red masked avatar ROFL


        2. Chickie Galore November 19, 2018 1:34 pm

          Didn’t you move home yet? I mean to Venezuela and all? Did ya figure out what exactly a Nazi is why your antifa-ing?


          1. Du Mhan Yhu November 19, 2018 4:04 pm

            She is from New Joisey, AKA the garbage state. I doubt they want her back, too many like her there already.


          2. antifaHI November 19, 2018 10:36 pm

            Moving out happened in the House. Senat and presidency are coming up 🙂


    2. Buds4All November 18, 2018 5:22 pm

      “those whom will not accept any compromise” they would be the Democrats. Sad but they will take all the free hand outs!


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