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HI-EMA’s Miyagi resigns, ‘button pusher’ fired in aftermath of false missile alert


    Gov. David Ige, along with state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Joe Logan and Retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira discussed the state’s investigation this morning.


    Vern Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, talked to reporters, Dec. 1, at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s command center in Honolulu. Gov. David Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials today announced that HI-EMA administrator Vern Miyagi resigned this morning and the so-called “button pusher” has been terminated as a result of the state’s internal investigation of the Jan. 13 false alert of an imminent missile attack.

[VIDEO] Ige announces results of internal investigation into false alert of missile attack

UPDATE: 11:30 a.m.

Gov. David Ige ended this morning’s nearly hour-long news conference with an assurance to the public that the state will improve its emergency management operations in the aftermath of the Jan. 13 missile-alert scare.

“I wanted to assure you that the men and women who work for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of the community and they do that job well,” Ige said.

He vowed to develop the “best emergency management warning system for our people.”

At the news conference, it was announced that Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, director of joint staff of the Hawaii National Guard, has been appointed interim administrator of HI-EMA, replacing Vern Miyagi, whose resignation was announced this morning.

UPDATE: 11:13 a.m.

Gov. David Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials announced that HI-EMA administrator Vern Miyagi resigned this morning and the so-called “button pusher” has been terminated as a result of the state’s internal investigation of the Jan. 13 false alert of an imminent missile attack.

“Gen. Miyagi, a respected military leader and honorable man, has taken full responsibility and submitted letter of resignation today,” state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Joe Logan, who ordered the investigation, said today at a news conference inside Diamond Head, HI-EMA’s headquarters.

As a result of the findings, Logan said, the worker who set off the alert was fired on Friday, another HI-EMA executive resigned after Jan. 13, and a third employee is being suspended without pay. The fired worker had been on paid leave after the false alarm.

Retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira, who headed the internal investigation into HI-EMA, said the button pusher failed to hear “Exercise, Exercise, Exercise” although five others got it right.

According to Oliveira’s report, the employee has been a source of concern for over 10 years because of poor performance and had been counseled.

Oliveira said the fired employee had confused drills for real events at least twice before, once for a fire and once for a tsunami and had been “counseled.”

Toby Clairmont, HI-EMA executive officer, was identified as the second HI-EMA employee who resigned, effective last Friday. It was announced last week that Clairmont would retire sometime this year, however no date was given.

The state press conference followed an update earlier today from the Federal Communications Commission, which provided preliminary results of their ongoing probe during this morning’s commission meeting in Washington, D.C.

A key finding in that report is that the HI-EMA worker who triggered panic by sending a false ballistic missile alert to phones across the state believed the islands were actually under attack.

Ige and HI-EMA officials, in several public explanations on the false alarm, had never revealed that the agency “warning officer” actually thought a missile attack was imminent, instead saying that he pushed the “wrong button” or selected the wrong option from a drop-down computer menu.

While a final FCC report has yet to be issued, their initial probe has revealed that poor planning, inadequate technology and a series of errors from multiple people contributed to and exacerbated the button pusher’s mistake.

According to the FCC findings presented in Washington today, a shift supervisor initiated a drill of the missile alert system by pretending to be U.S. Pacific Command and played a recorded message over the phone.

“The recording began by saying “exercise, exercise, exercise,” language that is consistent with the beginning of the script for the drill,” according to the FCC investigator. “After that, however, the recording did not follow the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s standard operating procedures for this drill. Instead, the recording included language scripted for use in an Emergency Alert System message for an actual live ballistic missile alert. It thus included the sentence “this is not a drill.” The recording ended by saying again, “exercise, exercise, exercise.”

The male warning officer, HI-EMA officials revealed last week, was not cooperating with either the FCC or internal investigations into the Jan. 13 event.

Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony, a HI-EMA spokesman, said “there’s really no law” to force the former employee, who was an HGEA union member, to participate in the investigations.

“We did ask for voluntary cooperation. He’s the only one that didn’t cooperate,” Anthony said, although, he said the man did provide HI-EMA with a written statement.

UPDATE: 10:37 a.m.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Vern Miyagi has resigned and employees involved in the statewide missile-alert panic on Jan. 13 have been either terminated, suspended or resigned, it was announced today.

At a briefing this morning on the state’s internal investigation false alarm, state officials announced one employee has been terminated, one has resigned and a third has been suspended without pay.


The results of the state’s internal investigation of the Jan. 13 false report of an imminent missile attack are scheduled to be released this morning by Gov. David Ige, state Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Joe Logan and retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira.

Ige’s office said they also will “announce some of the personnel actions that will occur within the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.”

The announcements are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today inside Diamond Head, home to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

False Ballistic Missile Alert Internal Investigation by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

>> For the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s full coverage of Hawaii’s missile alert scare, go to

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