Ewa Field Is Still Alive With History

Wednesday - August 13, 2008
By Kerry Miller
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This historical photo
This historical photo (at left) shows Ewa-based Marines in action at the site of the unfinished Ewa Field swimming pool. This is one of the only photos known to exist showing U.S. servicemen actually firing at Japanese bombers during the attacks on Dec. 7, 1941. Photos courtesy of the Barbers Point Naval Air Museum.

Dec. 7, 1941, is one of the most memorable dates in Hawaii’s history, with the attack on Pearl Harbor forever imprinted in the minds of those who experienced it.

After much historical research, John Bond discovered the Ewa Marine Corps Air Field - located just off Geiger Road near the Barbers Point airfield - to be a place of importance during this time. Now the Ewa Beach resident and historian is fighting the Navy and a development company to get the former air field on the National Historic Register.

“The main thing is when the attack on Pearl Harbor was first happening, planes came down the coastline of this area of Barbers Point. This was their whole rendezvous rotation point,“said Bond.“Japanese Zeroes, they came into the airfield, and so this spot was being attacked before Pearl Harbor was even bombed.We believe it was the very first spot attacked on Dec. 7.

“Civilians were killed out here. None of this story out here has ever been well-presented as part of the whole Pearl Harbor thing. Basically, the airfield has been totally ignored, historically, as an important battle site.”

Bond and his supporters, including Barbers Point Naval Air Museum at Barbers Point president Brad Hayes, recently discovered an unfinished swimming pool at the airfield from where Marines fired 1906 Springfield rifles during the attacks.

“The big dogfight you see in Pearl Harbor movies, that actually happened here,“Bond attested.“There are a lot of other people assisting me with help and support. I’m carrying the flag publicly by letting people know what’s going on.”

The Navy and Ford Island Properties, a division of the Hunt Development Group, are currently negotiating a development deal for the Ewa field land. The Navy owns the land and plans to lease 499 acres to FIP for 40 years. Originally, FIP gave the Navy land on Ford Island to build civilian residential units. After the deal fell through because of concern about building residences on an active military base, the Navy agreed to give FIP the Ewa field land.

Volunteers (below) from the Barbers Point Naval Air Museum
Volunteers (below) from the Barbers Point Naval Air Museum at Barbers Point take a trip to the same pool, albeit a little flooded with foliage, as it sits today.Photos courtesy of the Barbers Point Naval Air Museum.

Steve Colon, president of the Hawaii Division of Hunt Development Group,said in a statement that Hunt is working with the Naval Air Museum to find a way to best preserve and honor military history in the Kalaeloa region.

“Hunt Development Group strongly supports the men and women in the military who have served our country,“the statement read.“We are grateful for their enormous sacrifices and appreciate those who want to honor their bravery. The lease of the land at Kalaeloa between the Navy and Ford Island Properties has not been finalized; however, we believe it is important to honor the military.”

The Navy conducted a cultural resource inventory survey and concluded the Ewa Marine Corps Air Field was excess land, which was officially made part of the Barbers Point airfield in 1997. In related news, a deal was finalized June 19 for Ka Makana Ali`i, a new West Oahu shopping center that will be located on land across from the Ewa field. The complex is anticipated to be larger than Pearlridge Center and will include a hotel. Bond feels this makes the Ewa field land all the more valuable to FIP/Hunt Development Group.

“They specifically wanted this land and wanted to try to get around this federal law requirement to do historical surveys,” said Bond.“They intentionally tried to depress the historic value of the site. We have a lot of help coming from former Marine Corps officers and veterans.“He also has been talking with local politicians, including U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and assistant minority leader Rep.Kymberly Pine (District 43-Ewa Beach). Visit www.December7.com for more information on Bond’s “Save Ewa Field” initiative.

While he disagrees with the Navy over the development of the Ewa field land, Bond said he is not against the Navy as a whole, or the rest of the U.S. military branches.

“I grew up here as a kid from a military family,“said the Kailua High School graduate.“I moved out here a few years ago (because) Dec.7 and Pearl Harbor seemed to be becoming part of my life. It’s an amazing, deep, historical subject. It is really, really fascinating.”


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