Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Wilson is doing something greater than himself by Serving His Country

Harold Wilson

When I was in graduate school at the University of Hawaii Manoa, more than 40 years ago, I lived in a wooden duplex on the side of Punchbowl and made friends with my neighbors, Herman and Dorothy Wilson.

The Wilson’s were an older couple and from time to time they would take care of their grandson who was an active little toddler.

This toddler would scamper around the area as he enjoyed a variety of make believe games, which included playing ‘army’.

Last year at the Veteran’s Day 5K in Hilo an active duty National Guardsman, stationed at the Pohakuloa Training Area came up to me and asked a surprising statement.

“I think you knew my grandparents,” he said.

To my astonishment, standing before me was a grown man who looked to be in top shape, by the name of Harold ‘Mokuahi’ Wilson.

His grandparents have since passed, but their legacy was standing before me and preparing to walk to the starting line and challenge me in a 3.1 mile race.

Growing up Wilson played and fell in love with baseball, which he got from his grandfather and father, who both stayed active with community league softball well into their later year.

“I loved doing outdoor activities as I came from a baseball family and I played little league,” Wilson said.  “I did lots of stuff outdoors and as a child I like to play ‘Army.’

His love for playing Army evolved into the real thing as he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1994 and switched to the Hawaii Army National Guard in 1998 to present.

“I want to do something greater than myself,” Wilson said.  “I want to serve my country and be the best of the best.”

Alicia and Harold

Wilson knew that the military would challenge him and has devoted nearly two decades to service.

“I knew that the Corp would challenge me more than I have ever been challenged and my love for running started in the Marines,” he said.

Wilson is a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard on Active Orders at Pohakuloa Training Area.

“I’ve served multiple tours to Iraq with a light infantry scout platoon,” Wilson said.  “The most difficult part of deployments is being away from my family.”

When not on deployment Wilson likes to work out in the nearest gym as he gets in a good sweat.

“Running has always been my best way to deal with stress and after a good run my focus seems clearer,” he said. 

At the Veterans Day 3.1 mile run Wilson encouraged several of his fellow soldiers to come out and run including his wife Alicia and their 10 year old son Austin.

“I am a self motivator and I love to motivate others, “he said.  “If you can motivate then anything can be accomplished.”

Wilson also has a home gym and at work at PTA there are three fully functional gyms.

“My home has a variety of weights, sit up bar, heavy bag,  speed bag, free standing bag for kicking as I like to mix it up to maximize muscle confusion,” Wilson said.  “Besides these I maintain pushups and sit ups to meet Army standards.”

Wilson Family at 5K event

Wilson knew that the military would challenge him and has devoted nearly two decades to service.

“I knew that the Corp would challenge me more than I have ever been challenged and my love for running started in the Marines,” he said.

Wilson is a Staff Sergeant in the Army National Guard on Active Orders at Pohakuloa Training Area.

“I’ve served multiple tours to Iraq with a light infantry scout platoon,” Wilson said.  “The most difficult part of deployments is being away from my family.”

When not on deployment Wilson likes to work out in the nearest gym as he gets in a good sweat.

“Running has always been my best way to deal with stress and after a good run my focus seems clearer,” he said. 

At the Veterans Day 3.1 mile run Wilson encouraged several of his fellow soldiers to come out and run including his wife Alicia and their 10 year old son Austin.

“I am a self motivator and I love to motivate others, “he said.  “If you can motivate then anything can be accomplished.”

Wilson also has a home gym and at work at PTA there are three fully functional gyms.

“My home has a variety of weights, sit up bar, heavy bag,  speed bag, free standing bag for kicking as I like to mix it up to maximize muscle confusion,” Wilson said.  “Besides these I maintain pushups and sit ups to meet Army standards.”

Wilson also runs at PTA where the air is thin and makes it more difficult to move.

“It’s a real challenge to run at Pohakuloa due to the high elevation,” he said.  “I’m in no way a body builder or marathon runner, but I am looked up to and always strive to serve as a role model for my soldiers.”

“Being in the military gives me a good reason to take care of myself,” Wilson said. “I strive to not only push myself but the soldiers I serve with.”

A 1989 graduate of Waiakea High School, Wilson is married and has five children and just days before this interview he turned 41 years of age.

“With all the stress of being in the military, I find that running and exercising is a good way to deal with that stress,” Wilson said.

I’ve made some adjustments to my diet and have switch from white to brown rice,” he said.  I try to avoid sweets and eat lots of greens.”

When a hunger attack hits, Wilson will curb that void by eating some almonds or having a triscuit with tuna and lettuce.

“My favorite dinner would be a quarter pound of poke with about a half cup of brown rice,” he said.  “For drinks it’s water and 100 percent pink grapefruit juice.”

Wilson’s overall goal is to lose some weight and when he does overeat he will get out and push himself a little harder the next day.

Alicia and I made New Year Resolution’s to improve our overall health,” Wilson said.  “Alicia is giving up smoking and I’m giving up beer!”

The Wilson’s have made a pact to help each other quit their bad habits and they try to motivate each other in a positive direction.

“The kids help keep an eye on mom and they will let me know if she is about to smoke,” he said with a grin. 

I’m sure that Harold ‘Mokuahi’ Wilson’s grandparents are watching over him and they are smiling and proud to see the man that he has turned into.

And someday should you happen to see a Vietnam Veteran jogging through the streets of East Hawaii remember to smile, say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”    Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Army Celebrating 235th Birthday with a fun Run/Walk on June 5

U.S. Army to celebrate 235th birthday on June 5

   The U.S. Army will be celebrating its 235th Birthday and Celso Tadeo from Pohakuloa Training Area is putting together a fun run/walk celebration on Friday, June 5, starting at 7:30 am from Liliuokalani Park.

   Event organizers will have static displays, door prizes, awards and more, according to Tadeo.  “During the post race celebration we will be cake cutting and we’d like the entire community to come out and celebrate with us,” he said.  “Participation in the run/walk is not necessary to attend the cake cutting ceremony.”

  Registration forms are available at Pohakuloa Training Area, Spencer Fitness Center, Waiakea Recreation Center, and Hilo area Army National Guard and Reserve Centers.

   Tee shirts will be given to the first 75 people entered.  For more information email celso.tadeo@us.army.mil or call Tadeo at 969-2401.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Events, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hilo’s Jim Phillips Hiking His Way to Good Health

Jim Phillips

   As we get older some of us look for different ways to celebrate our birthdays.  I know when I was young birthdays were a big deal and would be memorialized with much fanfare.

    Once we start getting into our graying years the fanfare pretty much disappears and we look for other ways to honor another year of life.

    Hilo’s Jim Phillips wanted to celebrating his 73rd birthday by doing something he has always loved doing – hiking.  So this senior citizen decided to do something special that he would truly bring him pleasure.

    Phillips decided that in the weeks prior to his 73rd he would hike from sea level, in increments, all the way to the summit of Mauna Loa.

     “Hiking to the summit of Mauna Loa is something that I had first started on my birthday, December 17, 1997,” Phillips said.  “I hadn’t done it for the past three years due to health issues and I decided to make this a December ’09 birthday present to myself.”

    Since ’97 Phillips has done the summit trek in ’98, 2000, ’03, ’04, ’05 and ’06 and in Dec 2009 decided to do it again.

     To accomplish what Phillips wanted to do at his advanced age requires that he be in top physical shape.  Walking from sea level in your early 70’s, even in increments, requires a healthy body and good conditioning, something that Phillips began working on during his youth.

     Phillips had an early start on physical activity, growing up in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

    “I had always been involved in playing sports,” Phillips said.  “Touch football in the street in Mt. Lebanon.  Baseball, football, high school track, cross-country and hockey were all things I did as a kid.”

     At Ohio University Phillips stayed active with baseball, tennis and fraternity basketball.  Following college Phillips became an Air Force pilot, retiring as a Command Pilot with 101 combat missions over North Vietnam. In March 2009 he received the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award earned by documented safe and incident free aviating for over 50 years.

     “The toughest activity during my Air Force career was getting in shape and earning my US Army parachute badge at age 36 while having to compete with 18 to 20 year olds,” he said.

   Phillips fell in love with the Big Island during his military stint when he was stationed at Pohakuloa Training Area.

     “Having worked at Pohakuloa, in the shadow of Mauna Loa during the 1970’s, we hiked the mountains and were often found scuba diving the Kona coast,” Phillips said.

   In 1978 he purchased a home in Hilo, but was not a permanent resident until 1994 when he began to slow down from traveling the globe.

     “I traveled the planet in my 36 foot sailboat and was just a part time Hilo resident, until I decided to slow down a bit,” Phillips said.

     “I met and married my wife Drenna in Alaska in 2001 and since then we fly our single engine airplane from California to Anchorage where we take off the wheels and install floats and fly around Alaska camping in Forestry cabins,” Phillips said.

    Phillips was a member of the Hawaii’s Sierra Club and became a hike leader on the Big Island where he enjoyed leading groups on Hawaii’s trails.

    “I can still remember having to push a couple backpackers up the trail to the Mauna Loa Cabin after carrying their pack to the cabin,” he said.

     Phillips tried, over the years, to become a Volcano National Park back country volunteer, but says that the program never took off.

     Today Phillips serves as a board member of E Mau Na Ala Hele.   He hiked many of the weekly treks that E Mau members did documenting the 175 mile Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

    “We were successful in having the Ala Kahakai Trail designated a National Historic Trail,” he said.

    Phillips love for trail hiking also led to his working with DNLR to help re-construct and identify the historic Pu U O’o Trail on the Mauna Kea side of saddle road. 

    “The project, which would have extended the Pu U O’o trail, was abandoned when the state Department of Natural Resources took over the cabin a few years ago,” Phillips said.  “The cabin now sits awaiting repairs that hopefully will make it accessible to the public along with an already completed wheelchair accessible composting toilet and a sign the reads, handicapped parking only.”

    Phillips began his sea to summit hike on Nov. 5 and his plan was to hike twice per week so that he could finish the entire distance on his birthday.

     “I came up with a plan that if I hiked two days a week doing 1250 ft. elevation each of the two days, I would have covered 10,000 ft. of elevation in route to the summit of 13,681 ft.,” he said.

    Phillips marked each place where he stopped for the day and returned to it for the next leg of his journey.  After 15 days of hiking, often joined by his twice weekly hiking buddy, Lesley Sears, between Nov 5 and Dec 14 Phillips covered 56.9 miles while climbing 13,143 feet of altitude.  Not bad for a fellow who was just turning 73 years of age.

    Jim Phillips serves as a good example of how getting older can be a positive thing if we just take the time to care of our bodies.  Phillips had found something that he loves to do and has spent a lifetime doing it.

   Getting older might slow us down a bit, but it shouldn’t stop us from continuing to do the things that we love to do.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles, Wilderness Trail Runs | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the U.S. Army’s Birthday Run

Celebrate the Army's Birthday with a 5K Run on Saturday

Celebrate the Army's Birthday with a 5K Run on Saturday

The U.S. Army is turning 234 years old this weekend and members of Pohakuloa Training Area are putting on a 5K (3.1-mile) run/walk on Saturday in celebration of the event.

The start and finish line will be at Liliuokalani Gardens and the course will follow along side Hilo Bay Front shoreline.

Applications, along with a $15 entry fee, are being accepted up until 6:30 a.m. the morning of the race.  Entry fee includes a T-shirt, refreshments, and a chance to win one of several door prizes.

The Army will also have a “Static Display” which includes several Humvees.  PTA, led by Lt. Col. Warline Richardson, and Big Island’s Buying Local First campaign business organizers, led by Michael Williams is the host.

For more information contact Celso Tadeo at celso.tadeo@us.army.mil or call 969-2401.  Proceeds from the event go to Buying Local First Campaign and PTA Family Readiness Group.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment