Ewa Battlefield

We are pleased announced the completion of the AMVETS Hawaii’s final report Ewa Field Battlefield Interpretive Plan (attached), in fulfillment of the NPS grant provided to AMVETS.  

The majority property owner of the battlefield land (Hunt Companies) is working with the US Navy and SHPO on a Memorandum of Agreement to govern the lands to be set aside for permanent preservation and how such lands within and outside the preservation area would be managed in the future. Those discussions are on-going. Once the agreement is finalized and executed among the parties, we are confident that funds will be made available to provide public access and interpretation.

We are pleased to have had the opportunity for this important undertaking and to have worked with you all our partners.   Mahalo.


February 2020 Draft Report

Task 1 Final Report: Note. Once we receive the final Task 1 report, it will be published – Louis Berger is currently completing a final version with photo credits, executive summary, recommendations, etc.

Task 2 Final Report: https://amvets-hawaii.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/SOW-Archaeological-Inventory-Survey_-V4.0-9-20-19_RN_DRS.pdf

Final Report: Scope of Work for Archaeological Inventory Surveys for Ewa Field, Oahu, Hawaii


Final Report: Scope of Work for Archaeological Inventory Surveys
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Sep 2019)Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Jul 2019)
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Jun 2019)
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Apr 2019)
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Mar 2019)
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Feb 2019)
Ewa Battlefield Project Progress Report (Jan 2019)
Ewa Plain Battlefield Newsletter; Jan 2019 Edition

AmVets Hawaii Annual Brief (1 JAN 2019)

This Newsletter Vol. 2 focuses on potential tools for preserving the Ewa Field battlefield as a prelude to further discussions of the future battlefield. 

Note. Louis Berger will prepare the interpretive plan for eventual Ewa Plain Battlefield

AmVets Hawaii and Louis Berger Agreement

Point of Contact:

Bob Nardi, PP

Vice President

Phone: 973.407.1681

Email: rnardi@louisberger.com

Click the "donate" button below to make a donation, today.
AMVETS Hawaii is a 501(c)(3), is a public, non-profit, Veterans Service Organization (VSO).

Ewa Battlefield.2

War! December 7th, 1941, a date that will live in infamy...

Brief Timeline/ Evolution of Ewa Battlefield/Plain:

1851: Ewa Field owned by the Hawaiian Royal Family

1864: Ha’alele’a’s second wife, Anadelia Amoe, deeds Ha’alele’a’s land to John H. Coney.

Coney organized property and names is Honouliuli Ranch and uses land for beekeeping, limestone quarrying and charcoal production.

1877: John Campbell, a Maui businessman purchases 41,000 acres from John Coney for $95,000.

1879: James Ashley constructs Ewa’s artesian well.

1889: The Government of Hawaii for the Oahu Railway and Land (OR&L) Company grands Ben Dillingham a charter.

Oahu Railing and Land serves as primary transportation for agriculture and commercial transportation.

During WWII, the OR&L railroad rights were leased to the US government to support the troops and activities at various military bases.

1925: Navy signs a sublease with OR&L for a new mooring mast.

The lease allows the Navy to construct the mooring mast along with temporary buildings.

1939: Ewa’s artesian well capped.

1941: The field a Ewa contains small houses, several outbuildings, a mooring mast, and a runway.

Late 1930s, Early 1940s: Construction of Marine Corps Base Ewa (Ewa Field) in congruence with the military and economic expansion into the Pacific region to counter the growth of the Japanese Empire.

07 DEC 1941: From 0740-1000 hours, Ewa Field experiences three waves of attacks from Japanese torpedo planes.

1952: Ewa Mooring Mast field disestablished.

2016: Ewa Plain Battlefield listed in the National Register of Historic Places

77th Anniversary of December 7, 1941 - Ewa Battlefield still has many undocumented historic sites
Ewa Battlefield still has many undocumented historic Pacific War sites, including early post attack 1942 aircraft revetments linked to Wake and Midway battles. These revetments still exist undocumented.

The closest most people will ever get to the early important Pacific War battlefields is seeing the Ewa Battlefield sites.

It is important to realize that the battles of Ewa Field, Wake and Midway were borne by the many sacrifices made by Ewa Marines in 1941 and early 1942.

The Ewa Battlefield, Wake Island and Midway Island can all be linked to Ewa Field.

All of the planes and pilots came from Ewa Field.

The first Medal of Honor of the war was given to Ewa Field pilot Capt. Henry T. "Hank" Elrod.

The only Medal of Honor of the Midway battle was given to Ewa Field Capt. Richard Fleming.

Both had the main roads at MCAS Ewa named for them, as was the case with other KIA Medal of Honor USMC pilots.

However when the Navy took over the property they renamed all of them after Navy ships.

Japanese expansion and power in the Pacific was at its height in 1941 and early 1942.

Ewa Field was a front line combat airfield with fully armed fighters planes

You might think that the recognized National Register Ewa Battlefield would have well documented research on the entire area of the 1941 Ewa airfield - which served as the front line base of Marine Corp air defense of Pearl Harbor as well as Wake Island and Midway Island.

However much of the physical 1941-42 area remains largely undocumented. In fact there has never even been any official search or documentation on all of the large number of incoming and outgoing bullets and anti-aircraft artillery that landed all over the Ewa air base and surrounding villages.

Ewa Battlefield veteran John Hughes, seen on left, still attends annual Ewa Commemorations

One of the first things that had to be done after the Sunday December 7 morning air attack was get ready for the next expected air attack. This meant hiding the remaining serviceable Marine planes in the surrounding high grass and Kiawe trees and throwing branch limbs, tarps and anything else over them.

Meanwhile Ewa Marines on Wake Island were under attack from a very large Japanese attack force.

Many of Ewa Field's planes had been sent to Wake Island by the USS Enterprise the week before the air attack on the Marine airfield where most of the remaining planes were destroyed.

Lockheed Electra burns up at Ewa Field

The next big air attack fortunately did not come as it was determined that the Japanese surface fleet had left Hawaiian waters. However the IJN submarines remained and shelled island ports up through the end of December, keeping everyone guessing as to what might happen next.


Wake Island

On Wake Island Ewa Marines sent a week earlier by the USS Enterprise were fighting for their lives. By the end of December 1941 they were overrun.

Marines on Wake Island put up a tremendous resistance against overwhelming Japanese forces. An expected rescue by a Navy task force failed to follow through leaving the Marines to their fate.


Midway Island

Wake Island succumbed to overwhelming Japanese forces in late December, 1941

Lost Marine planes at Ewa and Wake were replaced by planes the Navy didn't want their pilots using the Brewster which became regarded as a flying coffin when pitted against Japanese Zeros.

While the Marines’ actions in the early Pacific War are not as well known or as successful as those of their Navy counterparts they fought with what they had. Marine Fighter pilots had to engage some of the most experienced Japanese pilots flying vastly superior Zero fighters with outdated airplanes and inexperienced aircrews thrown into air combat. As we remember the sacrifices made by the men of Midway let us not forget the gallant and brave Marines of VMF-221 and VSMB-241.

Those Marine planes and aircrews came from the still existing and largely undocumented early 1942 revetments at MCAS Ewa Field. Neither the Navy or NPS acknowledge these historic Pacific War sites exist.

2-MF-13 (Lucky 13?) at a still existing early 1942 Ewa Field revetment, flown in combat at Midway by Capt. Kirk Armistead, USMC. This badly shot up plane survived when most didn't.

Above, a painting of a shot up Brewster, possibly MF-13 or MF-15 arriving on Midway after a brutal air engagement with Japanese fighters and dive bombers.


Here are the combat reports of the VMF-221 Brewster and Wildcat pilots during the Battle of Midway, by Mark E. Horan, military author and historian.

Statement of Capt. Kirk Armistead, USMC

My airplane was an F2A-3, Bureau number 01562. My guns were loaded with 2 tracers, 2 armor piercing, 1 ball and 1 incendiary every six rounds.

While on standby on the morning of June 4, 1942, the air raid alarm was sounded at 0555. As our engines were turning up, we did not hear the alarm: but inquired, and found that it had been sounded. At approximately 0602 we took off. My division consisted of six F2A-3 airplanes, piloted by myself, Lt. Sandoval, Capt. Humberd, Lt. Brooks, Lt. Kunz, and Lt. Mahannah. Capt. Humberd was leading the second section, and Lt. Kunz was leading the third section.

I climbed the division to 5,000 feet at which time the base station instructed me to climb to 12,000 feet and vector 310o. I then received instructions to vector 320o. at about 0620 I heard Capt. Carey transmit "Tally-ho' followed by hawks at angels 14, supported by fighters. I then started climbing, and sighted the enemy at approximately 14,000 feet at a distance of 5 to 7 miles out, and approximately 2 miles to my right. I immediately turned to a heading of about 70o and continued to climb.

2-MF-13 at a still existing and undocumented early 1942 Ewa Field revetment, Ewa.

I was endeavoring to get a position above and ahead of the enemy and come down out of the sun. however, I was unable to reach this point in time. I was at 17,000 feet when I started my attack. The target consisted of five divisions of from 5 to 9 planes each, flying in division Vees. I figured this group to consist of from 30 to 40 dive bombers of the Aichi Type 99 SE DB. I was followed in column by five F2A-3 fighters and one F4F-3 fighter, pilot unknown. I made a head on approach from above at a steep angle and at very high speed on the fourth enemy division which consisted of five planes.

I saw my incendiary bullets travel from a point in front of the leader, up thru his plane and back through the planes on the left wing of the Vee. I continued in my dive, and looking back, saw two or three of those planes falling in flames. Some of the planes in my division centered their attack on the fifth enemy division. After my pullout, I zoomed back to an altitude of 14,000 feet, at this time I noticed another group of the same type bombers following along in their path. I looked back over my shoulder and about 2,00 feet below and behind me I saw three fighters in column, climbing up towards me, which I assumed to be planes of my division. However, they climbed at a very high rate, and a very steep path.

2-MF-13 being fueled up in undocumented early 1942 Ewa Field revetment, Ewa.

When the nearest plane was about 500 feet below and behind me I realized that it was a Japanese Zero Fighter. I kicked over in a violent split S and received 3-20 MM shells, one in the right wing gun, one in the right wing root tank, and one in the top left side of the engine cowling. I also received about 20-7.7 off a portion of the aileron, which mangled the tab on the aileron, and sawed off a portion of the aileron. I continued in a vertical dive at full throttle, corkscrewing to the left, due to the effect of the damaged aileron. At about 3,000 feet, I started to pull out, and managed to hold the plane level at an altitude of 500 feet. As the speed decreased, the stick pressure became more manageable, and by giving it full left tab, at a low speed, the pressure was negligible.

I headed back towards the area, and called the base radio, asking them if I could land because of a damage aileron. I received their "Roger, wait". I circled the area at a distance of about 15 miles, and saw that the area was under heavy attack, so I proceeded to a spot up-sun from the area; and circled.

At approximately 0740 I heard the base radio call the fifth division and advise them to land, refuel, and re-arm. I could hear no reply, so asked for permission to land. I received an affirmative reply, so headed towards the area. I gave two recognition signals, circled the field, and was not fired at by anti-aircraft batteries. My hydraulic system had been damaged, but the landing gear and flaps operated normally. The right brake was inoperative. A successful landing was effected at approximately 0800.

2-MF-13 ready for towing from undocumented early 1942 Ewa Field revetment, Ewa.

Statement of Capt. Kirk Armistead, USMC

The Zero fighter is exceptionally maneuverable, with an astounding rate of climb. It is capable of closing the range on an F2A-3 in a climb to such an extent that it seems useless to even try to make more than one pass at any target. It is my belief that they can climb at least 5,000 feet a minute, as these fighters climbing up at me were pointed at an angle of 50o in their climb.

I do not believe that they were zooming after a dive, because I am normally certain that at the time I attacked the bombers there were no enemy fighters above 14,000 feet. In fact, I believe that they were below the bombers at that time.

The Zero Fighter is faster in level flight than the F2A-3. It is much more maneuverable that the F2A-3. It can out climb the F2A-3. It has more firepower than the F2A-3.

In general, the Japanese airplanes appear to be very vulnerable to .50 cal. Gun fire. They burst into flame in nearly all cases upon receiving any bullets.

It is my belief that the use of incendiary bullets greatly increases the effectiveness of attack against Japanese aircraft.

Well executed Brewster model and photo depicts 2-MF-13 and VMF-221 at time of departure to Midway Island

U.S. Marine Corps Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo from Marine Fighting Squadron VMF-221 is loaded aboard the aviation transport USS Kitty Hawk (APV-1) at Pearl Harbor for shipment to Midway Islands, in May 1942.

When intelligence reports arrived indicating that a Japanese fleet was approaching the Hawaiian Islands Kitty Hawk immediately loaded the men, armament, and equipment of the 3d Marine Defense Battalion and planes of Marine Air Groups 21 and 45 at Ewa Field and sailed at top speed to reinforce Midway, escorted by Owyn. Kitty Hawk delivered men and aircraft to Midway on 26 May 1942.


Statement of Second Lieutenant William. V. Brooks USMCR:

The last remaining Marine fighter pilot of VMF-221 from the battle of Midway, Williams Brooks died in January 2010 and was buried with full military honors, in Belleview, Nebraska.
Brooks in his after action report described his part in the battle:

I was pilot of F2A-3, Bureau number 01523, Our division under Capt. Armistead was on standby duty at he end of the runway on the morning of June 4, 1942, from 0415 until 0615. At about 0600, the alarm sounded and we took off. My division climbed rapidly, and I was having a hard time keeping up. I discovered afterwards that although my wheels indicator and hydraulic pressure indicator both registered “wheels up”, they were in reality about 1/3 of the way down.

We sighted the enemy at about 14,000 feet, I would say that there were 40 to 50 planes. At this time Lt. Sandoval was also dropping back. My radio was at this time putting out no volume, so I could not get the message from Zed. At 17,000 feet, Capt. Armistead led the attack followed closely by Capt. Humberd. They went down the left of the Vee , leaving two planes burning. Lt. Sandoval went down the right side of the formation and I followed. One of us got a plane from the right side of the Vee. At this time, I had completely lost sight of my division.

As I started to pull up for another run on the bombers, I was attacked by two fighters. Because my wheels being jammed 1/3 way down, I could not out dive these planes, but managed to dodge them and fire a burst or so into them as they went past me and as I headed for the water. As I circled the island, the anti-aircraft fire drove them away. My tabs, instruments and cockpit were shot up to quite an extent at this time and I was intending to come in for a landing.

It was at this time that I noticed that a important feature in their fighting. I saw two planes dog-fighting over in the east, and decided to go help my friend if at all possible. My plane was working very poorly, and my climb was slow. As I neared the fight both planes turned on me.

It was then that I realized I had been tricked in a sham battle put on by two Japs and I failed to recognize this because of the sun in my eyes. Then I say I was out-numbered, I turned and made a fast retreat for the island, collecting a goodly number of bullets on the way. After one of these planes had been shaken, I managed to get a good burst into another as we passed head-on when I turned into him. I don’t believe this ship could have gotten back to his carrier, because he immediately turned away and started north and down.

I again decided to land, but as I circled the island I saw two Japs on a Brewster. Three of my guns were jammed, but I cut across the island, firing as I went with one gun. But I could not get there in time to help the American flier and as soon as the Brewster had gone into the water I came in for a landing at approximately 0715 (estimated).


Brewster model represents an F2A-3 from VMF-221 piloted by Capt. William Humberd during the Battle of Midway. On June 4, 1942, Capt. Humberd shot down an A6M2 Zeke and a B5N2 Kate. For his actions he was awarded the Navy Cross. Of the 25 Brewsters that engaged the enemy on June 4, 12 were lost to the enemy.

Capt. Henry T. Elrod

F4F Wildcat flown by Capt. Henry T. Elrod and other planes destroyed on Wake Island after continuous Japanese assault. Elrod continued to fight on the ground until killed by enemy fire.

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the only effective fighter available to the United States Navy and Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater during the early part of World War II in 1941 and 1942

A memorial to prisoners of war is seen Jan. 12 on Wake Island. The "98 Rock" is a memorial for the 98 U.S. civilian contract POWs who were forced by their Japanese captors to rebuild the airstrip as slave labor, then blind-folded and killed by machine gun Oct. 5, 1943. An unidentified prisoner escaped, and chiseled "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock near their mass grave, on Wilkes Island at the edge of the lagoon. The prisoner was recaptured and beheaded by the Japanese admiral, who was later convicted and executed for war crimes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

On 5 October 1943, American naval aircraft from Yorktown raided Wake. Two days later, fearing an imminent invasion, Japanese Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the 98 captive American civilian workers who had initially been kept to perform forced labor. They were taken to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and executed with a machine gun. One of the prisoners (whose name has never been discovered) escaped, apparently returning to the site to carve the message "98 US PW 5-10-43" on a large coral rock near where the victims had been hastily buried in a mass grave.

Japanese Proclamation made after taking control of Wake Island

Damaged Grumman F4F Wildcat on Midway Island after Japanese assaults ended.
Bullet marked ramp where Marines died at Ewa Field on December 7

Front gate of Ewa Field attacked on December 7 still exists today

75th Anniversary: USMC Pilots Sacrifice- Ewa Field Was
Front Line In Early Pacific War


Labels: 1941, 1942 revetments, 75th Anniversary, Brewster, December 7, Ewa Field, Marine aviators, Medal of Honor, Midway Island, Pacific War, USMC, VMF-221, VMSB-241, Vought SB2U Vindicator, Wake Island

Location: Kapolei, Ewa, Hawaii

75th Anniversary: USMC Pilots Sacrifice- Ewa Field Was Front Line In Early Pacific War

US Marine Corps Pilots Sacrificed: Ewa Field Was America's Front Lines In Early Pacific War

Few today really know how much personal sacrifice early Ewa Field Marine Corps pilots made at Wake Island and Midway Island. The Navy abandoned a relief plan to rescue Marines holding out on Wake Island, leaving them to be captured or killed. Among them fighting on the ground was Ewa pilot "Hank" Elrod.

Ewa Marine pilots were sent to Midway Island to suffer air raids and put up against superior Japanese planes and anti aircraft guns that totally decimated the out of date Brewster's of VMF-221 and Vought SB2U Vindicators of VMSB-241.

The Ewa Battlefield, Wake Island and Midway Island can all be linked to Ewa Field.

All of the planes and pilots came from Ewa Field.

The first Medal of Honor of the war was given to Ewa Field pilot Capt. Henry T. "Hank" Elrod.

The only Medal of Honor of the Midway battle was given to Ewa Field Capt. Richard Fleming.

Both had the main roads at MCAS Ewa named for them, as was the case with other KIA Medal of Honor USMC pilots.

However when the Navy took over the property they renamed all of them after Navy ships.

US Marine Corps VMF-221 Midway survivors upon arrival at newly commissioned MCAS Ewa

VMF-221 Midway survivors at MCAS Ewa. Fifth on right front is Capt. Kirk Armistead who survived the brutal air battle in Brewster MF-13. Seventh on right front is future Marine ace pilot Marion Carl who flew an F4F Wildcat.

Henry Talmage "Hammerin' Hank" Elrod (September 27, 1905–December 23, 1941) was a US Marine Corps aviator and the first to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II,
for his heroism in the defense of Wake Island.

Captain Richard E. Fleming (November 2, 1917–June 5, 1942) was a United States Marine aviator who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Midway. Fleming piloted a Vought SB2U Vindicator dive bomber of VMSB-241 in an attack on the Japanese cruiser Mikuma.

Capt. Richard Fleming second from top right with members of VMSB-241, many of whom perished in the Midway battle.

Capt. Richard Fleming's SB2U Vindicator of VMSB-241 as it would have looked at Ewa Field

SB2U Vindicators of VMSB-241 taking off from Midway Island going into battle.


Military historian Mark Horan, now deceased (2014) supplied this detailed info about Brewsters at Ewa Field that went to Wake-Midway.

VMF-221 circa 15 December 1941 for the Wake Island Relief

According to the ComAirBarFor Aircraft Transfer files (Compiled with great diligence each week, and included all facilities on the West Coast, at Pearl, and on the outlying Pacific bases), USS Saratoga (CV-3) embarked 14 F2A-3s of VMF-221 on 15 December 1941. However, the transfer records identified only 12 F2A-3s in the Squadron at that time.

At that time the F2A-2 was not considered a combat aircraft any longer (see below) and none were taken to sea for the Wake Relief and subsequent deployment to Midway, nor were they deployed to any perceived combat zone.

Rather, they were transferred to the training command as soon as practicable, my list shows the following:

Not on Jim's list (5): F2A-3s 01518, 01523, 01524, 01563, 01568
From Jim's list (7): F2A-3s 01527, 01537, 01542, 01548, 01550, 01552, 01553
Unknown (2) ...

The 22 F2A-3s that equipped VMF-221 when subsequently deployed at Midway can be summarized as follows:

Delivered by USS Saratoga (CV-3) and known to be at Midway prior to the next delivery of aircraft on 28 March 42:

F2A-3 01518 MF-1
F2A-3 01523 MF-16
F2A-3 01524 221-MF-9; CAP interception 03.10.42 (Gunner Robert Lee Dickey, USMC) MF-9
F2A-3 01527 221-MF-16; FL in atoll lagoon, 12.02.42 (1st Lt. Charles W. Somers, Jr., USMC);
F2A-3 01537 221-MF-1 CAP interception 03.10.42 (Capt. James L. Neefus, USMC) MF-4
F2A-3 01542 221-MF-12 CAP interception 03.10.42 (2nd Lt. Francis Paul McCarthy, USMC) MF-12
F2A-3 01548 221-MF-4 CAP interception 03.10.42 (1st Lt. Charles W. Somers, Jr. USMC) MF-2
F2A-3P 01550 MF-20
F2A-3 01552 MF-6
F2A-3 01553 MF-15
F2A-3 01563 MF-14
F2A-3 01568 MF-11
F2A-3 ?
F2A-3 ?
Known to be delivered 28 March 42 by USS Curtiss:
F2A-3P 01521 MF-17
F2A-3 01528 ex VF-2 MF-10
F2A-3 01530 ex VF-2 MF-21
F2A-3 01562 ex VF-2 MF-13
F2A-3P 01569 MF-5
F2A-3 ?
F2A-3 ?
F2A-3 ?

Known BuNos that the delivery date has yet to be determined - I suspect it is possible that the Curtiss log might supply this information
F2A-3P 01520 MF-19
F2A-3 01522 MF-7
F2A-3P 01525 MF-3
F2A-3P 01541 MF-8
F2A-3 01559 MF-18

Now, as for pilots ... the limiting factor was operational combat ready aircraft - not pilots. The squadron had 22 pilots for the Wake Relief effort that were subsequently deployed to Midway. Fourteen had planes and were on USS Saratoga (CV-3). Eight did not and were embarked with the ground echelon on USS Tangier. Arrived 0900, 25.12.42 from USS Saratoga (CV-3) or 1002, 26.12.41 on USS Tangier

01. Maj. Verne James McCaul, USMC, O-3987 [14390] (C.O.) MAG-22 (X.O.) 28.03.42
02. Capt. Harold William Bauer, USMC, O-4534 [14553] (X.O.) out 08.02.42; Ace, KiA 14.11.42
03. Capt. Robert Milton Haynes, USMC, O-4581 [14634] out
04. Capt. John Lucian Smith, USMC, O-5425 [14871] out; Ace
05. Capt. James Lefferts Neefus, USMC, O-5391 [14902] out, but on Midway through 02.05.42 Nimitz visit
06. Capt. John Francis Dobbin, USMC, O-5334 [14952] out
07. 1st Lt. Frederick Rounsville Payne, Jr., USMC, O-5161 [14932] out; Ace
08. 1st Lt. Charles John Quilter, USMC, O-5695 [15048] out
09. 1st Lt. John Robert Alvord, USMC, O-6020 [15271] Capt.; KiA 04.06.42
10. 1st Lt. Robert Rudolph Burns, USMC, O-6056 [15276] out
11. 1st Lt. Charles William Somers, Jr., USMC, O-6055 [15279] out
12. 2nd Lt. John Frank Carey, USMC, O- 5650 [15135] Capt.
13. 2nd Lt. Henry Augustus Ellis, USMC, O-5651 [15136] out
14. 2nd Lt. Robert Edward Curtin, USMC, O-5857 [15270] Capt.; KiA 04.06.42
15. 2nd Lt. Herbert Thompson Merrill, USMC, O-6021 [15272] Capt.; K 24.03.43
16. 2nd Lt. William Carter Humberd, USMC [15275] Capt.
17. 2nd Lt. Marion Eugene Carl, USMC, O-6053 [15277] Capt.
18. 2nd Lt. Francis Paul McCarthy, USMCR, O-6235 Capt.; KiA 04.06.42
18. 2nd Lt. Phillip Rene White, USMCR, O-6377 Capt.
20. 2nd Lt. Loren David Everton, USMC, O-6381 had arrived 04.12.41 on USS Wright (AV-1); Ace
21. 2nd Lt. David W. Pinkerton, Jr., USMCR, O-7535 KiA 04.06.42
22. Mar.Gunner Robert Lee Dickey, USMC (NAP), O-9126 WiA 10.03.42; out

In regard to the F2A-2 not being considered a combat aircraft, the F2A-3 was the only Brewster model considered a combat fighter by the time the war started. All -2 models were to be sent to the advanced carrier training command as soon as they could be spared. By this point, only current model planes that had, or would be equipped with the pilot armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, dual .30 caliber free guns, and ZB/YE - all of which was to have been applied in production or by the subsequent arrival in the Pacific of factory refit kits, were considered combat aircraft.

Notably, these only included the F4F-3/4, F2A-3, SBD-2/3, TBF. The TBD, which had not of these mods, was only considered a front line aircraft because the first TBF-1s were, as yet, unavailable to replace them.

Mark E. Horan Jul 9 2012


VMF-221 at the Battle of Midway by Santiago A. Flores

VMF-221 was formed in July 1941 at San Diego, California. In December 1941 the unit was moved to Hawaii, Ewa MCAS. On December 25th,1941, 14 F2A-3's of VMF-221 took off from the "Saratoga" CV-3 to land on Midway Island. Originally formed part of the relief force for Wake Island.

On March 28th,1942 8 more F2A-3 were offloaded from the Seaplane Tender "Curtiss" AV-3 for the unit at Midway, and finally 7 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats were delivered from the Aircraft Ferry "Kitty Hawk" APV-1 on May 26th, 1942.

The following is number of listing of the personnel and the aircraft of VMF-221, that participated in aerial combat in the defense of Midway Island on the morning of June 4th, 1942.


Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status

MF-1 01518 Maj. Floyd B. Parks USMC MIA

MF-2 01548 2Lt. Eugene P. Madole USMCR MIA

MF-3 01525 Capt. John R. Alvord USMC MIA

MF-4 01537 2Lt. John M. Butler USMCR MIA

MF-5 01569 2Lt. David W. Pinkerton Jr. USMCR MIA

MF-6 01552 2Lt. Charles S. Hughes USMCR Did not engage,
Turned back due Engine problems



Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status

MF-7 01552? Capt. Daniel J. Hennessey USMC MIA

MF-8 01541 2Lt. Ellwood Q. Lindsay USMCR MIA

MF-9 01524 Capt. Herbert T. Merrill USMC Bailed out WIA

MF-10 01528 2Lt. Thomas W. Benson USMCR MIA

MF-11 01568 Capt. Phillip R. White USMC Survived

MF-12 01542 2Lt. John D. Lucas USMCR MIA



Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status

MF-13 01562 Capt. Kirk Armistead USMC Survived (NARA Photo at Ewa Revetment)

MF-14 01563 2Lt. William B. Sandoval USMCR MIA

MF-15 01553 Capt. William C. Humberd USMC Survived

MF-16 01523 2Lt. Williams V. Brooks USMCR WIA

MF-17 01521 2Lt. Charles M .Kunz USMCR WIA

MF-18 01559 2Lt. Martin E. Mahannah USMCR KIA (his body washed up later)

23 (F4F-3) 3989 2Lt. Walter W. Swansberger USMCR MIA



Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status

MF-19 01520 Capt. Robert E. Curtin USMC MIA

MF-20 01550 2Lt. Darrell D. Irwin USMCR Survived



Plane No. Bu.No. Pilot Status

22 4008 Capt. John F. Carey USMC WIA

24 4000 Capt. Marion E. Carl USMC Survived

25 3997 2Lt. Clayton M. Canfield USMCR Survived

26 4006 Capt. Francis P. McCarthy USMC MIA

27 2532 2Lt. Roy A. Corry USMC Survived

28 1864 2Lt.Hyde Phillips USMCR Did not engage;
a/c out of order.


Total Losses for June 4th, 1942 for VMF-221:

Aircraft: 12 F2A-3, 2 F4F-3

Pilots: 13 MIA, 1 KIA, 4 WIA 4

Aircraft in Commission on June 6th, 1942

F2A-3 MF-6, MF-11 and MF-21

F4F-3 24, 27, and 28


April- June 1942, Midway Island

April 10th, 1942

Capt. James L. Neefuss (211-MF-1) Mavis Flying Boat June 4th, 1942

Capt. Clayton M. Canfield (F4F-3 #25) Aichi 99 DB

Capt. John F. Carey (F4F-3 #22) Aichi 99 DB

Capt. Marion E. Carl (F4F-3 #24) A6M Zero; +2 A6M Zeros Dam.

2Lt. Roy A. Corry Jr. (F4F-3 #27) A6M Zero; Aichi 99 DB

Capt. James P. McCarthy (F4F-3 #26) A6M Zero

Capt. William C. Humberd (F2A-3 MF-15) B5N2 Bomber; A6M Zero; B5N2 Bomber Dam.

Capt. Kirk Armistead (F2A-3 MF-13) Aichi 99 DB Prob.

2Lt. Charles M. Kunz (F2A-2 MF-17) 2 Aichi 99 DB

Capt. Philip R. White (F2A-3 MF-11) Aichi 99 DB; Aichi 99 DB Dam.

75th Anniversary of December 7, 1941 - Ewa Battlefield still has many undocumented historic sites

Labels: 1941, 1942 revetments, 75th Anniversary, Brewster, December 7, Ewa Field, Marine aviators, Medal of Honor, Midway Island, Pacific War, USMC, VMF-221, VMSB-241, Vought SB2U Vindicator, Wake Island

Location: Ewa, Kapolei, Hawaii

Friday, June 24, 2016

Famous 369th Regiment Provided WWII Anti-Aircraft Defense For MCAS Ewa

Famous 369th African American Regiment Provided WWII Anti-Aircraft Defense For MCAS Ewa

This unique segregated Army 369th unit from Harlem, New York has a special place in the WWII cultural history of wartime Hawaii. However the story is also about how Eleanor Roosevelt likely influenced this unit's assignment to Hawaii. The 369th came with well trained professional Jazz musicians who provided air defense for MCAS Ewa and also left their "Hep Cat" influence on music in the Hawaiian Islands, including likely influencing Hawaiian slack key legend Gabby Pahinui.

The WWI New York Harlem "Hell Fighters" Became The Harlem "Hepcats" Around Ewa Plantation Villages Providing Anti-Aircraft Defense For MCAS Ewa During WWII

After the nomination of Ewa Battlefield to the National Historic Register on May 23, 2016 and the upcoming 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor in December, it is timely to bring to attention a unique facet of the Ewa Battlefield post-attack air defense history which involves the famous and highly decorated 369th African American Infantry Regiment from Harlem, New York City.

The 369th was not involved or located in Hawaii at the time of the December 7, 1941 attack by Japanese aircraft on the Ewa area. However, the unit was Federalized and converted from Coast Artillery to Anti-Aircraft Artillery and sent to Hawaii to become an historically noteworthy part of the MCAS Ewa history through the subsequent air defense of MCAS Ewa and the Ewa Plain in 1943-44.

The Ewa Plain Battlefield as nominated to the National Historic register is located in the southwestern corner of Oahu, Honolulu County, in a geographic area referred to as the Ewa Plain, approximately 5.5 miles southwest of Ford Island (middle of Pearl Harbor).


While the Battle of Ewa Plain encompasses three main population centers: Ewa Field, Ewa Villages, and Ewa Beach, the 1941 Ewa Field retains sufficient architectural, archeological, and/or landscape integrity to convey its historical significance. This includes retaining its integrity of location, setting, design, and association. The site is also capable of revealing additional archeological discoveries.

Unfortunately due to limited time and research capabilities in order to meet a project draft EIS comment deadline we are not yet able to completely confirm by specific Army records that the famous 369th was had Anti-Aircraft elements stationed by MCAS Ewa in 1944.

Area between MCAS Ewa and Ewa Plantation Camps identified as 369th AA battery sites

The 369th converted into light and heavy Anti-Aircraft air defense guarding Oahu airfields

However a research survey of 1943-44 print media and local Ewa Village oral history all point to the unique segregated 369th African American Army unit that was distinctive from all other Army military units during that time. Limited research has discovered photos and written news articles spotlighting the 369th, when wartime security and censorship did not allow specific base defense locations to be named. Army photos were shot or cropped to eliminate identifying backgrounds and private photography was strictly prohibited.

Just prior to the start of the Pacific War in 1940 the 369th was a New York National Guard infantry Regiment that was Federalized and converted from infantry into a coast artillery (CA) regiment. They were then retrained again in 1942 to become an Anti-Aircraft (AA) regiment and sent to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu to protect military airfields in 1942-44 with various caliber Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns. The 1941 Ewa Field had no AA defense and nearly all of its planes were destroyed by the attacking Japanese naval air force on December 7. By early 1942 the rapidly expanding MCAS Ewa had massive numbers of air operations for both Marine and Navy aircraft of all types and quickly became the hub of Marine air operations in the Pacific.

The 369th Regiment arrived on Oahu on June 21, 1942 and units were subsequently posted to man AA defenses at Kahuku Army Air Base, Ōpana Radar Station, Camp Malakole, Haleiwa airfield, Mokuleia Army Airfield and Marine Corps Air Station Ewa. They remained organized as segregated Army units which was actually more of a benefit rather than a racial disadvantage. There are mentions of the unit in the book “The First Strange Place: The Alchemy of Race and Sex in WWII Hawaii,” by Bailey and Farber who use the example of the 396th Coast Artillery (AA) Regiment, then more commonly referred to as “The Harlem Hellfighters” to illustrate the 1940’s era racial tensions. White soldiers from Southern states often derided black soldiers for not knowing “their place” and resented the extra racial space accorded blacks in Hawaii’s multicultural milieu.

Members of the 369th jazz and swing band out on the Royal Hawaiian Hotel beach front

It is important to know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a politically progressive administration with an especially socially and politically activist wife- Eleanor Roosevelt. She especially pushed for social reforms for African Americans and their advancement through the war effort. The Roosevelts had first visited Hawaii in 1934 and saw the islands as the future of racial tolerance and a link to the culture of Polynesia and Asia. At the same time Japan sought to gain cultural control of the Hawaiian Islands as well as encourage blacks to revolt and overthrow white culture. The military Martial Law government promoted racial tolerance among the military in Hawaii as a cultural experiment and as the best way to not disrupt the war effort. As directed from the highest levels the army’s newspaper in Hawaii transformed itself into a “steady instrument for racial progress.”

Eleanor Roosevelt during one of her WWII Hawaii visits getting an ID card

President Franklin D. Roosevelt touring Hawaii in 1934

He returned again in July, 1944

While under Martial Law, the Hawaii authorities enforced a mixed desegregation policy against race discrimination while still keeping segregated “colored” army units. This was an experimental mix of semi-segregation with buses, theaters and chow halls not segregated while personal services like barber shops remained segregated. Whites who did not like this policy had to live with it as the military police were ordered to protect colored soldiers rights if necessary. For the 369th “Hellfighters” unit members they were always ready to fight if necessary earning them a reputation of respect on the streets of wartime Honolulu. This also caused some wartime colored army members to wear the insignia of the 369th when off duty in the downtown and Waikiki area.

Some of the first desegregation of US military units happened in Hawaii and was very likely a policy strongly influenced by FDR and his socially activist wife. Research has indicated that FDR and Mrs. Roosevelt knew of the 369th unit’s special New York Harlem history and likely arranged to have them serve in Hawaii in a special segregated unit capacity to allow them to retain their unique military heritage and not be sent to southern states which presented many racial conflicts for black soldiers during WWII. FDR visited Hawaii twice and Mrs. Roosevelt several times during WWII as a Red Cross representative. In July 1944 FDR toured MCAS Ewa and other Oahu bases in a convertible sedan sitting with Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur. Eleanor Roosevelt was known to visit a wide variety of military installations, including internment camps, colored segregated Army units as well as troop hospitals.

The president’s wife was also concerned with giving colored soldiers the same military service opportunities as white troops which resulted in the formation of an air unit that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. This may also explain why a widely circulated Army wartime photo (below) shows the Under Secretary of War Robert Patterson and Lt Gen Robert Richardson (then military governor of Hawaii) inspecting 369th troops and then greeting Col. Chauncey Hooper, commanding officer of the 369th with Lt. Col. Harry B. Reubel, executive officer. Hooper retired as a brigadier general in the New York National Guard in 1954. The first Black American to be promoted to the rank of brigadier general, Benjamin O. Davis had served as commander of the 369th Coast Artillery prior to the start of WWII. His son Benjamin O. Davis Jr. became commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen and retired a four star general in the US Air Force in 1998.

Under Secretary of War Patterson, Lt Gen Richardson, Col. Hooper, and Lt. Col. Reubel 1942

Not yet settled into AA camps, newly arrived 369th troops march down South King Street

When the 369th arrived on Oahu in August 1942 (then often called a colored or negro army unit) they were already quite unique and extremely proud of their WW-I Harlem Hell Fighters military history. Their well-educated African American officers and also noncommissioned officers which included talented jazz musicians from the New York Harlem community then known as the capital of African American culture and jazz music. The 369th quickly found local social acceptance for their musical talents by being invited to play at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki at a time when swing and jazz was extremely popular war era music.

Jazz Pianist Claude Thornhill joined the Navy to discover Honolulu was a "Hotbed of Swing"

The 369th came to Hawaii already well staffed with professionally trained Jazz and Swing musicians and quickly developed a following among WWII troops and sailors.

The 1944 air photos of MCAS Ewa document their reinforced AA gun battery positions constructed with brick, mortar and sandbag protected 90 MM guns and smaller 50 Cal. Machine guns between the Ewa Marine airbase and Ewa Villages. There is also a hand drawn map created after the war by a retired Marine military police officer showing the location of the Army artillery unit camp. The location today is near the current Hawaiian Railway Society railroad museum and in an area behind the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is on this current City own property that is conducting a draft EIS and which brought about the research into the Army unit that occupied the gun positions.

During WWII this same City parcel area was at the end of the main MCAS Ewa runway and location of the Marine base headquarters and base flag pole. Archeological evidence of the AA battery sites and barracks still exist however primarily in small pieces of brick, mortar and concrete over subsequent post war surface land use for general small agriculture. Ground penetrating radar and other archeology methods today would likely reveal more subsurface evidence. While trail evidence would be difficult to find today, the 1825 Malden Royal Navy trail map shows this City parcel as being a very likely route of the Oneula Beach segment of the ancient Hawaiian trail route. Ewa oral histories indicate that this trail was still used by the Ewa Plantation community up until the late 1930’s to reach the beach dunes for shoreline fishing and limu picking.

The AA artillery base camp site on the City parcel currently under review as an expansion of the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant is on a relatively flat karst, ancient coral reef slope between General Geiger road and the Oahu Railway track now on the National Historic Register. Ewa Villages are on the State historic register as well as the Hawaiian Railway Museum rail yard.

The MCAS Ewa Field – Ewa Battlefield area now placed on the National Historic register covers all of this battlefield area as a potential Ewa Historic Battlefield District, as mentioned in the Ewa Battlefield nomination. It is very possible that this parcel contains evidence of the December 7, 1941 attack on the Ewa airfield and villages revealing Pearl Harbor fired inbound 50 Cal. and larger anti-aircraft artillery shells as well as spent Japanese 7.7 MM machine gun shells. Such spent munitions have been found in adjacent land parcels. Many local residents report finding many Ewa battlefield ammunition artifacts and are still finding them in tall grass and surface disturbed areas.

In some of the parcel areas it is apparent that there were low mounds of red imported dirt that was brought in to use for building the artillery gun positions and leveling areas for the Quonset huts. Karst sink holes, some filled with very old bottles and broken ceramic eating implements exist in the area as well as land subsidence indicating subsurface water flow well known in the Ewa Plain. In some places large trees flourish which are typical Karst indicators of subsurface water channels and caves holding water. Even in such difficult environments tiny Opae Ula fresh water shrimp have been found. In older times Karst sinkholes were used for Hawaiian burials and Ewa Village oral histories report seeing bones (iwi) in holes and caves as not unusual in this same area.

The 1944 air photos show at least 6 or more Quonset huts placed close together. Quonset hut corrugated roof sheets can be found as well as remnants of military chain link fencing.

Also found was a concrete curb with Army style letters on it indicating a possible staff parking location. Other ground evidence includes small pieces of red brick and mortar typical of AA gun emplacements that were built possibly sometime in 1944 to emplace heavy AA guns like the 120 mm (4.7 inch) gun) and possibly 40 mm automatic weapons for close-in air defense and M51 Quad .50 caliber machine guns. Elements of the 369th were known to have such air defense weapon systems placed around MCAS Ewa and coastal areas.

In WWI the 369th was a highly decorated infantry unit fighting in France, receiving the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. The unit history goes back to 1840 and their New York City Armory in Harlem is on the National Historic Register. The 396th Coast Artillery (AA) Regiment from the New York National Guard was Federalized 13 January 1941 and converted into the 396th AAA (Gun) Battalion for the heavy guns (90 mm) and the 870th AAA (Automatic Weapons) Battalion for the 40 mm automatic weapons and .50 caliber AA machine guns around the end of December 1943. Both units later served in the Okinawa Campaign in 1945 on the little island of Karma Retto some 30 miles south of Okinawa. After the war the units returned to New York and still train and operate as the 396th Sustainment Brigade. There is a “Harlem Hell fighters” book published in 2014 by author Max Brooks.

World War I Harlem Hellfighters On Return From Europe

The 369th was by all accounts a very sharp Army unit lead by well-educated black officers and from Harlem, the center of the 1930’s black American cultural renaissance. James Reese Europe as the leader of the 369th Infantry Jazz Band, also known as the "Hellfighters," introduced the sounds of American ragtime to Europeans during World War I. Although his career was brief, he profoundly influenced the course of popular music in the United States and throughout the world. http://www.redhotjazz.com/hellfighters

In addition the musical influence of James Reese Europe’s bands reached the New York high society including the Roosevelts which in turn likely created the political conditions for the 369th to be sent to Hawaii during WWII. Interestingly also is that the sounds of the 369th American ragtime influenced European musicians who then later influenced Hawaiian slack key musicians such as Gabby Pahinui who had a strong interest in jazz music.

This unit was well remembered by local Ewa Villagers because they were very proud and very friendly, handing out treats and inviting neighboring plantation villagers to watch the latest Hollywood movies at their artillery base camp next to Ewa Villages (B, C and Mill village camps.) They used the Ewa Plantation swimming pool, sports facilities and were seen at the local Ewa Community Church attending Sunday services. They were especially known for their “hep cat” style of lyrical speaking. This was the first experience most in the multi-ethnic Ewa plantation community ever had with African Americans and they were invited to share all the local Ewa community facilities and attend the local churches.


“The First Strange Place: The Alchemy of Race and Sex in WWII Hawaii,”
by Bailey and Farber

Also see: African Americans in Hawai'i - By D. M Guttman

Labels: 369th African American Regiment, air defense, Army AA battery sites, Col. Hooper, Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR, Harlem, Hawaii, Jazz, MCAS Ewa, New York, Oahu airfields, Swing, Waikiki

Location: Ewa Kapolei Hawaii

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