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Editor's note: During the Second World War barbed wire was installed along Waikiki. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel was taken over by the Navy, but the Moana Hotel remained under civilian control and accepted any guest that it could accommodate.

 

 

I hung out in Waikiki from the age of 14 to 17. Us locals came to Kuhio Beach to body surf.

Until after Okinawa was invaded in April 1945, we either got out of Waikiki’s water at dusk, or risked being shot. At least that was our warning from soldiers on shore-line patrol.

They were kind of edgy initially, but became friendlier as time passed. Soldiers from the 98th arrived three weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1942. They were in Hawai’i so long that their presence became one of the war’s worst kept secrets. Day after day the familiar insignia could be seen on the streets - a blue seal of New York State with an orange Indian-head wearing feathers. Over 15,000 of them garrisoned the islands and trained and trained and trained. They were supposed to be the gang that would invade Japan. When they did go, it was as an occupation force. While on leave they hung out at Waikiki and on Hotel Street.

The barbed wire was removed from the beach at Waikiki after the threat of Japan’s invasion waned. The military seemed less edgy after Iwo Jima was invaded (February 1945) and our hours on the beach were extended.

J. Arthur Rath, 2008