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>> Where and why are you going?

Ever heard of Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Canton and Enderbury Islands, some of the Equatorial Line Islands?

"T
hese islands are 1800 miles from the Hawaiian Islands. Howland Island and Baker Island are about...[30]...miles apart; while Jarvis Island is about a 1000 miles away from them. These islands are mostly barren." (Ka Mo'i, September 13, 1935)

Imagine

"...The first four...[cruises]...received a minimum of publicity. The "colonists" lived in very temporary camps, chiefly in tents, with no radio communication and very few comforts or facilities, on three islands: Jarvis, Howland and Baker. At the end of the fourth cruise all parties were withdrawn.

The balance of the cruises (numbers 5 to 24)...Five islands were occupied...The camps were of a more permanent type, including frame houses..." (Panala'au Memoirs by E.H. Bryan, Jr., p. 23)

It's about the unexpected.

"...Captain Meyer assembled us together. Starring at us for about five minutes he finally said,

'Boys, someday you're going to be mighty proud that you made this trip. Your names will go down in history. You're going to colonize and help establish claim of these islands for the United States government. These islands are going to be famous air bases in a route that will connect Australia with California.'

Of course this was unexpected but at the same time pl easing..." (From a journal written by George West '35)

Why are you going?

"...The Kamehameha School for Boys had military uniforms and military discipline almost from the opening day and the students had many opportunities to practice self-discipline, to learn to respect orders, and to learn how to be leaders.

Faculty member Donald Kilolani Mitchell formed Hui 'Oiwi in the the early 1930s...It was for those students interested in learning about Hawaiian culture...constructing a pili grass hale to learning fishing methods, to practicing Hawaiian games, it was an honoring of who they were that the students highly appreciated. Most of the Kamehameha boys who participated in the colonizing project were members...

Kamehameha Schools and its students became involved...in 1935 when William T. Miller of the Bureau of Air Commerce and Lieutenant Harold A. Meyer made an appointment to talk to Albert Judd. Mr. Judd was a trustee of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate,which supported the Kamehameha Schools and the Bishop Museum; at the time, the Estate and the Museum shared trustees.

In addition, Mr. Judd's father had been in charge of recuiting Hawaiian laborers for American guano mining operations on the same islands in the late 1800s....he would have Homer Barnes, Principal...select six suitable young men...They were Henry Ahia, Daniel Toomey, James Kamakaiwi, Killarney Opiopio, William Kaina and Abraham Piianaia.

Mr. Judd also offered the services of Edwin H. Bryan, Curator of the Museum Collections...to begin collecting information about the islands as well as natural history specimens for the Museum.

Kamehameha Schools alumni and 12 soldiers were aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca when it left Honolulu...March 20, 1935. Two...alumni and three soldiers were left on each island with supplies and the promise that the Itasca would return in three months with personnel replacements and fresh supplies.... In a letter dated October 12, 1936 written...by now Captain Henry Meyer, he said of these...and replacement undergraduates: 'The duties performed by these men are severe. Isolated on a desert island...of only a few acres is per se, a strain. Under such conditions to be faithful in recording weather observations, keeping detailed daily logs, collecting scientific specimens, cleaning landing fields, establishing effective camps, preserving food supplies and keeping up morale are real accomplishments...

I have been intimately associated with eleven classes at the U.S. Military Academy and feel that the representatives of your school measure up to the standard of selection insisted upon there...comment by Sergeant Austin Collins...who lived three months on Jarvis Islands,' In my twenty-one years of Service in all parts of the world I have never been associated with a finer group of men."

This recognition and praise for several dozen Kamehameha students who took part in securing these Equatorial islands as United States possessions was consistent through the seven years of this...project."

(Written by Mrs. Janet Zisk, Kamehameha Schools, Archivist, for the Bishop Museum exhibit brochure July 2002)

Toward the end of the 7 year colonization, those Kamehameha men faced the ultimate test:

 

Where and why are you going? | Who went first? | What is Hui Panalā‘au? | "Pioneering on Jarvis" by George West KSB '35 | 1942, the bitter end

Hui Panalā‘au remembered, 2002 exhibit | 2002 reception


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