University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) alumnus, Edwin Gayagas, was named one of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni by the University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association (UHAA). A retired U.S. Army Colonel, Gayagas earned an MA in organizational communication from the University of Kansas and a BEd in education from the COE.

“Although I did not go into the teaching profession, my training in the COE provided me with the basic foundation for problem solving and critical thinking, which I found to be extremely valuable in the military,” Gayagas explained. “As an officer, I was required to conduct classes in various subjects. Preparing a lesson plan made my briefings clear, concise, and understandable.”

The UHAA Distinguished Alumni award pays tribute to those alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions and community, committed themselves to advancing the values and goals of the university, and helped toward the improvement in the quality of life for future generations. Gayagas and four others will be recognized on May 14, 2013 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

After graduating from the COE in 1962, Gayagas was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. During his 34-year military career, he led a medical platoon in the 101st Airborne Division and prepared Rangers for combat at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis; served in Germany, Japan, and Vietnam during the Vietnam War; was a battalion commander in Korea; and completed his service as senior logistician at Tripler Army Medical Center. Among his numerous awards, Gayagas earned the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

“As I progressed in my military career, I often reflected on my COE experience at the University of Hawaiʻi,” he added. “The courses, coupled with the practice teaching, provided me with the confidence I needed to face various challenges, many of which were replete with unanticipated scenarios.”

In 1989, Gayagas started a general contracting and consulting company. After his second retirement in 1995, he became an avid community volunteer. He devotes much of his time and support to UH Army ROTC and athletics, having been a cadet and a scholarship athlete (lettered in basketball and track). He founded the UH Army ROTC Alumni Association chapter and has been president for 15 years. He is active in the UH Mānoa Letterwinners Club chapter, mentors ROTC cadets and active duty soldiers, and assists with the Wounded Warriors Project.

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