Monday, July 14, 2014

75th Anniversary Ewa Battlefield Nomination And Battlefield Archive Available

75th Anniversary Ewa Battlefield Nomination And Battlefield Archive Available

Previous MCAS Ewa and Battlefield Blog Posts Can Be Found On These Links:

More Coming Soon...

American Battlefields and National Parks are a result of public support and involvement and do not simply happen because an important historic and cultural site deserves national recognition.  Our political representatives must be made aware through expressed public communication and YOU can make a difference to help save this national treasure. Please contact me if you would like to add your support for this nomination to the National Register as an American Battlefield.


John Bond  Email:

Save Ewa Field   P.O. Box 75578   Kapolei, Hawaii   96707 

Take a look at the “resume” of this very remarkable 89 year old airfield…

  • Ewa Mooring Mast Field, one of the very earliest aviation fields in Hawaii, constructed in 1925 as a then high technology US Navy airship port with a state-of-the-art 100 foot high steel tower and circular railway.
  • One of the very first military bases attacked on December 7, 1941 and remained under nearly continuous attack for approximately two hours due to the Japanese use of Ewa airspace as their key air attack staging objective.
  • Ewa Field was the site of major air battles involving Japanese planes, Navy SBD’s from USS Enterprise and P-40’s from Haleiwa air field. Unarmed civilian planes with off-duty Army soldiers were also shot down over Ewa.
  • Ewa Field Marines and aircraft which had just been placed on Wake Island were in the first frontline Pacific War land, sea and air battle fought by the United States. The first Medal of Honor in WW-II went to Ewa USMC pilot Capt. Henry Elrod.
  • Ewa Field USMC pilot Capt. Richard Fleming was the only Naval aviation pilot to receive the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Midway in 1942.
  • Recognized in resolutions passed by the Hawaii State Legislature and three local neighborhood Boards recommending preservation of Ewa battlefield as a National Landmark, Monument, park and museum site.
  • Ewa Field WW-II history spawned movies “Wake Island” and “Flying Leathernecks” and was a key Oahu set location for filming the classic “Tora, Tora, Tora” in 1969.
  • MCAS Ewa was visited by many famous military, political and historic figures, including  FDR, Adm. Nimitz, Gen. MacArthur, Adm. Halsey, Gen. Geiger, and was an F4U Corsair fighter aircraft training base for legendary aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh and baseball great Ted Williams.
  • MCAS Ewa was an aircraft training base for many legendary USMC fighter squadrons, ace fighter pilots and 12 Medal of Honor recipients.

Ewa Field-MCAS Ewa was the original first home of US Marine Corps aviation in the Pacific, a forward development base of key air support concepts and pivotal operational aviation airport used to win back the Pacific Islands from Imperial Japanese control.

  • Federally recognized, National Register eligible “Leina a ka ‘uhane” – native Hawaiian spirit leaping off place – a spiritual portal back to the ancient homeland of Tahiti. This “wahi pana” (sacred place) is the area where native souls enter the afterlife.
  • MCAS Ewa was the WW-II home base for many special US Marine Corps air units, medium bomber squadrons, air transport squadrons, Navy SeaBee Construction Battalions and Women’s Marine Reserve squadron.
  • MCAS Ewa was the aviation base for “China Marine” operations after WW-II and saw the very first USMC jet aircraft in the Pacific during the early Korean War before the base officially closed in 1952.
  • MCAS Ewa- as part of NAS Barbers Point  in the 1960’s, became home for US Navy Patrol Wing 2 and very important Cold War Era missions involving Far East coastal patrols, intelligence gathering and anti-submarine warfare. Buildings by the 1941 battlefield were also a base for advanced undersea Soviet submarine tracking (SOSUS), and some of the earliest post-Vietnam War POW-MIA recovery operations.
  • Ewa Field’s original front gate area, attacked by Japanese planes on December 7, 1941, is today owned by the Hawaiian Railway Society as part of its National Register 1890’s narrow gauge railway museum. Also by Ewa Field is historic State Registered Ewa Plantation Village, also attacked on December 7, 1941.

  • 'Forgotten​' Sacrifice Honored In West Oahu

Further Ewa Battlefield Historic Notes and Details:

There are currently still 9 US American airmen listed as missing from the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu. – In the Ewa air battle five were from the USS Enterprise, three from the 251st  US Army Coastal Artillery Regiment.

Ewa Air Combat Participants – Americans

Army pilots in two civilian trainers

The very first Americans to die were very likely the three US Army soldiers flying in two rented planes along the Ewa shoreline. The Ewa shoreline was a very good flight training area and remains so today. Also these three private pilots were with the 251st Coast Artillery, a federalized California National Guard unit that had gun positions along the same Ewa coastline. CAP Zeros swooped in and quickly shot down both planes which plummeted into the sea.

On the morning of December 18, 1941 Dr. Dai Yen Chang, a prominent Honolulu dentist, was walking on the beach in Puuloa (Ewa Beach area) when he found a large piece of bright yellow doped fabric and what appeared to be a section of an airplane's outer wing panel. A Civil Aeronautics Authority inspector later positively identified the wreckage as having come from one of the K-T Cubs rented by the Army soldiers.

On the afternoon of December 31, 1941, Washed up on the beach was a brown Army service shoe containing a badly decomposed human foot encased in a waterlogged Army-issue sock. Eventually this shoe was determined to have belonged to 20-year-old Sergeant Henry C. Blackwell, one of the two Camp Malakole private pilots.   

USS Enterprise SBD’s

There is much more to this entire USS Enterprise SBD story but here is a synopsis of what happen over or near Ewa. Some of the surviving SBD’s landed at Ewa Field and Ford Island.

SBD-2  (6-B-3) #2181, Ensign Manuel Gonzalez and RM3 Leonard Joseph Kozelek were the aircrew aboard and were shot down by Zero CAP off Oahu’s west shore with no remains located. This was not actually near Ewa but Ensign Gonzalez may have been the first Navy plane shot down by CAP Zeros and his final radio report alerted some of the other planes that they were being fired on by unknown aircraft.

SBD-2 (6-S-9) #2158, Ensign John Reginald McCarthy and RM3 Mitchell Cohn were the aircrew aboard and were shot down by Zero CAP over Ewa and believed to have crashed on land in the vicinity of Puuloa. A Navy crash site photo was made but the exact location has been currently lost. Ensign McCarthy successfully bailed out at low altitude but suffered a broken leg. However RM3 Cohn may have been wounded with no chance to bail out and went down with the plane. His remains were never found.

SBD-2 (6-S-15) #2159, Ensign Walter Michael Willis and Coxswain Fred John Ducolon were the aircrew aboard and were shot down by Zero CAP and crashed into the sea off the Ewa shore. No remains of this plane or crew have ever been found.

SBD-2 (6-S-3) #2160, was flown by Ens John H L Vogt Jr and RM3 Sidney Pierce was shot down by Zero CAP and crashed at a site area which is today the Haseko Hoakalei Golf Course club house. By very amazing coincidence this is the same location where the Japanese Val crashed. Both Navy SBD aircrew remains were recovered. The Japanese aircrew reported as badly burned and with bullet wounds were buried at the crash site and never later recovered. Also by amazing coincidence this burning crash site was captured on film by Army photographer Lee Embree in a B-17e attempting a landing at Hickam Field. The two Japanese Val wingmen briefly attacked the large four engine bomber but then left unaware that it was not armed.

SBD-2 (6-S-4) #4570, Lieutenant C. E. Dickinson Jr., and William C. Miller, RM1c, were shot down by Zero CAP and crashed at a site area which is today a housing area off Fort Weaver Rd. (91-1037 Ka'Ilike St., Ewa Beach) The site has been specifically identified but a street and homes now occupy it. Lieutenant Dickinson successfully bailed out at low altitude and landed by One’ula Beach, as witnessed by a still living Ewa eye-witness (which I have interviewed). William Miller was wounded twice by attacking CAP Zeros and did not make it out of the plane however his remains were recovered. He is credited with shooting down one of the attacking CAP Zero’s.

SBD-2 6-S-14 #4572, Ensign E. T. Deacon and Audrey G. Coselett, RM3c, crash landed near Bishop Point, Hickam Field just across the PH channel from Ewa and suffered from “friendly fire” gunshot wounds before being rescued by a crash boat.

The three 251st CA Regiment soldiers were members of a federalized California National Guard coast artillery (AA) unit. All three were licensed pilots, and had rented planes from K-T Flying Services at John Rodgers Airport (HNL).

Ewa Air Combat Partcipants – Japanese

HIRYU D3A Type 99 “Val” dive bomber (Kanbaku), BII-233, flown by PO2c Koreyoshi Toyama with radioman, Flyer 1c Hajime Murao. This plane is believed to have been shot down by both Lt.’s Kenneth Taylor and George Welch in US Army P-40’s.

Welch's interview shortly after the enemy attack states: “Later we noticed 20 or 30 airplanes in a traffic pattern at Ewa, the Marine landing field. We found they were Japanese dive bombers strafing the field. Lieutenant Taylor and I each shot two of those down. I was leading and peeled off first. Lieutenant Taylor was about 200 yards to the rear and side, following me. Their rear gunner was apparently shooting at the ground -- because they didn't see us coming. The first one I shot down, the rear gunner didn't even turn around to face me. I got up close enough to see what he was doing. I got him in a five-second burst - he burned up right away.”

The remains of these two Japanese aviators are still buried at a site near the Haseko Ewa Hoakalei Golf Course club house and could still be possibly recovered. If not, then a marker should be placed to commemorate the site of their crash and the US Navy SBD. Such markers have been done at places such as Kaneohe Marine Base and Fort Kamehameha-Hickam AFB (JBPHH).

AKAGI D3A Type 99 “Val” dive bomber, (Kanbaku), AI-211, Aichi 3217, flown by pilot PO2c Gen Goto and radioman/gunner PO2c Michiji Utsugi from the carrier Akagi. Goto was part of the second wave of the attack assigned to attack Ewa Field and were the wingmen of Lieutenant Commander Zenji Abe, commander of the dive bomber forces in the second wave. According to post war oral histories, during the Ewa Field attack Abe and Goto were attacked by 2nd Lt’s Kenneth Taylor and George Welch in two Army P-40’s based out of Haleiwa Fighter Strip on Oahu’s north shore. Welch made a pass at Goto’s airplane and was hit by Utsugi’s rear facing 7.7mm machine gun. As Welch broke off the attack Taylor came in and opened fire, wounding Utsugi and forcing Goto to make a crash landing close to the beach east of Barber’s Point.

In memoirs Ken Taylor says: “So I let him have a short burst - I don't think I let him have more than fifteen rounds - and as he flamed he went into the most perfect slow roll I've ever seen. All I could see of him was his wheels sticking out of the smoke, and fire pouring out of the ship. Seconds later he hit the surf, right there on the beach.”

Goto pulled Utsugi from the water crash wreckage and swam to the beach. (Most likely somewhere between White Plains and Nimitz Beach as this was also witnessed by a still living Ewa Village resident who was at Hau Bush beach that we have recorded an interview with.) It’s unknown whether Utsugi died in the crash or after. Goto buried Utsugi in a shallow grave on the beach and made his way inland.

Wingman PO 3/C Tokuji Iizuka witnessed the combat and saw Goto’s plane go down into the sea. The disposition of their remains are currently undetermined at this time. On 10 December 1941 the Barbers Point light house keeper John M. Sweeney wrote in a report “They were confused in the Kiawe trees and prowled around all Sunday night, the Fort Kam 55th C.A. boys firing at them with rifles and machine guns. One was wounded, and was later found on the beach, buried by his mate. His feet were sticking out of the sand. The other was later shot by an (Army) officer.” However a marker should be placed to commemorate the site of their crash along the Ewa shoreline, or possibly as part of a crash marker at the Ewa Haseko club house site.

Oral history interviews of veterans serving with the U.S. Army 55th Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) Regiment and who were engaged in this “shootout at Barbers Point” during the evening of 7 December and 8 December 1941 revealed apparently that an Army lieutenant killed the second Japanese airman when he refused to surrender soon after running out of ammunition. By one account, both Japanese aircrew remains were examined, stripped of personal items, and taken to the nearby camp of the 251st CAC Regiment (activated California National Guard), recently arrived from California. One or two 251st CAC Regiment veterans recalled seeing the aircrew remains being placed in an unmarked gravesite near the beach at Camp Malakole just south of Barbers Point. (Were they later recovered?- we aren’t sure where.)

AI-211 Kanbaku artifact (USAR 1021) resides in the Arizona Memorial Collection and bears the factory-applied stencil, “Type 99 KAN BAKU, AI CHI No.3217.” Pat Beter of Waipahu found this one by three foot long piece of twisted aluminum, painted gray on one side and metallic green on the on a Nimitz Beach area of NAS Barbers Point after hurricane Iniki in September 1992 and subsequently turned it over to the NPS Arizona museum three months later.

Sources used to compile this information include Pearl Harbor historians David Aiken, James Lansdale, Daniel Martinez and Michael Wenger. There may be errors or omissions but this is believed to be as accurate as possible at the time of this writing.