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Dr. George Gentile

History of Pacific War Memorial Project

        The Pacific War Memorial was dedicated on Saturday, March 16, 2002, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.  The monument, a replica of the National Iwo Jima Memorial at Newington, Connecticut, was gifted to the United States Marine Corps by the Pacific War Memorial Association (PWMA), a 501(c)(3) organization registered in Hawaii.  The dedication ceremony was the culmination of seven years of effort and dedication on the part of a determined couple from Kamuela, and the non-profit organization they formed to complete the task.  Mr. and Mrs. Sefton R. Clark (a.k.a. “Alice” and “Bee”) spearheaded the effort to recapture the history between the U.S. military and the people of Hawaii during and immediately following the end of World War II.  They succeeded not only through community involvement and education, but also in bronze and stone. 

In Hawaii During World War II

      In the days and weeks following the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor and other U.S. military sites on O’ahu on December 7, 1941, everyone here in Hawaii – military servicemembers and residents alike – suspected that there might be additional enemy attacks.  As the months went by, more and more units moved into the Pacific from the Mainland to fight what was to become an “island hopping” campaign.  Hawaii’s strategic importance to the war effort soon became clear.  Sites in Hawaii were selected where troops could return after surviving the Pacific battles, to recuperate, be reinforced and train to go back to the fight. 

      Waimea (as Kamuela was known in those days) was a Big Island town of about 400 residents, many of whom were Japanese immigrants from Hiroshima.  Richard Palmer Kaleioku Smart, then owner of the huge Parker Ranch on the Big Island, offered to lease 40,000 acres of the ranch to the U.S. Marine Corps, for training.  The Second and Fifth Marine Divisions would both train there, while the 4th Marine Division trained on the Island of Maui.  Some training was conducted on the Island of Kauai as well.

      The 2nd Marine Division survivors of the pioneering but bloody amphibious assault on Betio in the Tarawa Atoll (November 20-23, 1943) traveled to an unfinished camp located at Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii.  While refitting and recuperating, the Division Marines completed work on the camp, soon to be called “Camp Tarawa” in their honor.  In the spring of 1944, the Second Marine Division redeployed for action at Saipan and Tinian. 

      The 4th Marine Division, activated in August 1943 at Camp Pendleton, California, came to Maui in February 1944, after participating in the Battle at Roe-Namur in the Marshall Islands.  The Division’s Marines formed a friendship with the people of Maui and became “Maui’s Own.”  Maui was a “home away from home” for members of the 4th Marine Division.  The Division left Maui in mid-May, 1944 to fight at Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands, where it suffered almost 6,500 casualties.  It returned to Hawaii in August to a warm welcome, trained for several months, then left for extensive maneuvers in January 1945.  The next time any of them would see Maui would be after the Battle of Iwo Jima.  The Division’s responsibility on Iwo Jima was to capture the airfields from the Japanese forces who had sworn to fight to the death to defend them.  In that battle, the Division suffered more than 9,000 casualties.  Infantry rifle companies had losses exceeding their original landing strength.  At the end of the battle, the Division survivors returned to a hero’s welcome in Maui, where they would train for the assault on the Japanese home islands that thankfully never came.

       The Fifth Marine Division arrived at Camp Tarawa during the summer and fall of 1944 to train for battle on an unnamed island; at that point, only the Division’s leaders and their superiors knew that the name would be “Iwo Jima.”  At Kamuela, the Camp Tarawa memorial reads:  “The division conducted rehearsals for the assault using the steep volcanic hills located on Parker Ranch, which simulated Iwo Jima’s most significant military feature – Mt. Suribachi.  By January 1945, the 5th Marine Division had departed Camp Tarawa for Iwo Jima.” 

       The men who raised the two U.S. flags on Iwo Jima on 23 Feb 1945, on the fifth day of the battle, did not do so to make history, but to inspire those who fought beside them and to honor those already fallen.  They simply obeyed the orders of their battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Chandler W. Johnson (CO, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines) to raise the first “Stars and Stripes” over Mount Suribachi, and then to recover it for the battalion and replace it with a larger flag.  Those who saw the national ensign flying high atop Suribachi pushed on for another 31 days until total victory was achieved.  After that grueling battle (February 19-March 26, 1945), the Fifth Division returned to Camp Tarawa to regroup and train for a possible assault on mainland Japan.  It departed again, after Japan signed the armistice agreement (on September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri, at anchor in Tokyo Bay), for duty at Kyushu as part of the U.S. occupation force.

 THE CAMP TARAWA HISTORICAL FOUNDATION

      In 1984, the Waimea Exchange Club erected a monument on land provided by Richard Smart, at the edge of town along what is now the Mamalahoa Highway.  The monument consists of a brass plaque mounted on a large boulder.  The plaque features a large Marine Corps emblem cast by hand by Wayne Bellamy, of Phoenix, Arizona from old cartridge brass.  The Camp Tarawa monument, located at what was the camp gate, reads:  “Tarawa was a savage and bloody battle that tested and shaped amphibious doctrine – doctrine that would ultimately bring victory and peace in the Pacific.”  [NOTE:  Bellamy was an 18-year-old replacement for the 2d Marine Raider Battalion at the time the unit was integrated into the Fifth Marine Division.  He served on Iwo Jima as a 60-mm. gunner, a private first class, and was wounded twice during the Iwo campaign.]

       In 1945, while at Camp Tarawa awaiting further orders, 60 members of the 28th Regiment (whose men had raised both flags on Suribachi on February 23, 1945) enlarged and signed a copy of the by now famous flag-raising photo by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal.  They presented the framed photo to A. Hartwell Carter, Parker Ranch manager, as a token of their appreciation of his support.

       Fifty years later, that signed Rosenthal photo was the “seed” for years of effort for Alice and Bee Clark.  After Carter’s death, the photo had been stored in the basement of his home.  In 1995, Mr. Carter’s widow, Rebecca, dusted it off as a possible donation, in response to a community-wide fund drive for a local school.  Bee Clark, who had called upon Mrs. Carter on behalf of Hawaii Preparatory Academy (his alma mater), realized the historical significance of the photo and suggested to Mrs. Carter that the U.S. Marine Corps might like to have it, to save, as a significant element of its history here in Hawaii. 

      The Clarks also realized that the town of Kamuela (Waimea) had quite a history with the U.S. military that should be recaptured and preserved.  They were inspired to form the “Camp Tarawa Historical Foundation” in early 1995, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose goal would be to raise community awareness of the friendship and hospitality the community had shown some 50,000 Marines 50 years earlier during WWII. 

       Through Alice and Bee Clark’s efforts, Rebecca Carter gifted the photo to the Marine Corps at a special community ceremony held in Kamuela on February 19, 1995.  Then Lieutenant General Charles C. Krulak, USMC, commander, Marine Forces Pacific, accepted the photo and a panoramic series of five photos – both restored and framed in Hawaii’s beautiful koa wood frames at the Clark’s personal expense – on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps.  The signed Rosenthal now hangs in a place of honor in the “Red Carpet Area” quarterdeck at Marine Forces Pacific headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith on Oahu.

       Between 1995 and 1998, the Camp Tarawa Historical Foundation raised the funds necessary to create a large, three-panel rock and granite monument addition to the Waimea Exchange Club’s monument.  The three panels honor the Second and Fifth Marine Divisions, and the V Amphibious Corps.  The dedication ceremony was held on March 29, 1998.  Among the attendees were many veterans, three active duty Marine Corps general officers (Lieutenant General Jefferson D. Howell, USMC, then Commander, Marine Forces Pacific; Major General Emil Bedard, then Commanding General, 2d Marine Division; and Brigadier General David Bice, then Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Hawaii), the Marine Forces Pacific Band, a Marine color guard, and scores of local community leaders and residents.

       In 1996, during one of the Clark’s many trips to the U.S. Mainland to garner support for the Camp Tarawa memorial, they were approached by Dr. George Gentile, president of the National Iwo Jima Survivors’ Association.  Dr. Gentile shared with them his group’s desire to place an Iwo Jima memorial in Hawaii to be shared with the world.  The Hawaii memorial would be a replicate of the one the national organization had created in Newington, Connecticut, and could be cast from the same molds.

 THE PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION

      Alice and Bee had a new mission.  They soon organized “The Pacific War Memorial Association” (also a Hawaii-chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) to raise the funds to place a replica of the National Iwo Jima Memorial at an appropriate location in Hawaii.  They drew together an auspicious board of directors.  In addition to Alice and Bee, the original PWMA Board of Directors included:

            Mr. Kenneth F. Brown, Vice-Chairman
                 Chairman, The Queen’s Medical Center
                 Chairman, Mauna Lani Hotel and Bungalows
                 Well-known Hawaii philanthropist
            Judge James S. Burns
                 Chief Judge, Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals
                 Son of former Governor of Hawaii, John A. Burns
            Dr. W. Donald Duckworth (former director of Bishop Museum who retired in 2001, and
                  served PWMA Advisory Board until departing Hawaii to live on the Mainland)
            Mr. George Ellis
                  Director of The Honolulu Academy of Arts
            Major General Fred Haynes, USMC (Ret.)
                  President of the American-Turkish Council, Washington, D.C.
                  Iwo Jima veteran with the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division
            Brigadier General Richard Vercauteren, USMC (Ret.)
                  Former Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Hawaii,
                  then Regional Director, Lockheed Corporation
            Mr. Phillip K. White, A.I.A.
      
          Well-known Hawaiian architect (designer and architect of The Maritime Museum)
                 Member of various non-profit boards

       During the fund-raising/dedication stages, Ms. Kitty K. Kamaka, attorney-at-law, served as a board member.  Over time, she, Mr. Ellis and BGen. Vercauteren left the board due to other commitments.

       Additional members serving on the PWMA Board of Directors (as of October 2003) include:

            Mr. DeSoto Brown
            Mr. Burl Burlingame, Honolulu Star Bulletin writer and author
            CAPT Harvey Gray, USN (Ret.)
            Mrs. Betty Kam
            Colonel John A. LeMoine, USMC (Ret.)
            Sergeant Major Steve Mellinger, USMC (Ret.)
            Mr. Manuel C. Menendez III, City of Honolulu
            Colonel Mike Olson, USMC (Ret.)
            Mr. John Wheeler, A.I.A., project architect for the Pacific War Memorial, MCBH
                  Kaneohe Bay

       Members of the PWMA Advisory Board include:

            The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, United States Senator
            Brigadier General Jerome T. Hagen, USMC (Ret.)
            Colonel John R. Hawkins, USAR
            Mr. David Heenan
            Lieutenant General V. H. Krulak, USMC (Ret.)
            Lieutenant General H.C. Stackpole, USMC (Ret.)
            General Fred C. Weyand, USA (Ret.)
            Major General Herbert Wolff, USA (Ret.)
            Dr. Donald Duckworth
(former PWMA Board of Directors member)

      The PWMA’s Fundraising Advisory group includes:
            Mr. Henry B. Clark, Jr.      Mr. Bill Mills                       Mr. Wilmer C. Morris
            Mr. Warren G. Haight        Mr. Randolph G. Moore

      Alice and Bee Clark met many times, over the next few years, with representatives of the U.S. Navy, the USS Arizona Memorial, the National Parks Service, the USS Bowfin Memorial, the USS Missouri memorial (after the “Mighty Mo” was moved to Hawaii), and several other local entities regarding an appropriate location for the Pacific War Memorial.  The PWMA’s first idea was to site the memorial at Pearl Harbor, in the area between the USS Arizona and the USS Bowfin.  After U.S. Navy plans grew for “The Navy Place,” possible sites on Ford Island were discussed.  Years went by, and no site was selected. 

      By December 1999, the age of the molds for the bronze, and the age and health of some of its owners (the National Iwo Jima Survivors Association), began to be factors in the decision.  The molds would have to be used fairly soon.  No fund-raising could begin until a site was selected and a commitment made on where the memorial would be located.

      Early in 2000, some 55 years after the Battle of Iwo Jima, the Marines in Hawaii came up with a solution.  On March 3, 2000, Brigadier General R. E. (“Chip”) Parker, Jr. (then Commanding General, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Deputy Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Hawaii) offered the PWMA its choice of two locations at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.  The PWMA Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept his offer.  Subsequently, the Board members visited the base at Kaneohe to meet with the general and his staff, and to choose between the two sites, both near the Main (H-3 terminus) Gate -- one overlooking the Nu’upia Ponds, the other overlooking Kaneohe Bay, with the Koolaupokos in the background.  The Board members selected the second site, with its dramatic vista, and the PWMA launched its fund-raising campaign.

On 19 March 2000, Mrs. Clark publicly announced the Pacific War Memorial project at the Iwo Jima commemoration ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (“Punchbowl”).  Colonel Mike Olson, USMC, then Deputy Commander of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, was present at the ceremony to officially unveil the “quarter model” of the monument.  [NOTE:  The quarter model made several subsequent appearances at various events.  It is currently still on display at Anderson Hall Dining Facility, aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

THE BRONZE

The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, VA – the first sculpture inspired by Joe Rosenthal’s famous photo -- was sculpted by Felix W. de Weldon, who was on active duty with the Navy when the photo was released in 1945.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the monument on November 10, 1954.

In 1992, Dr. George Gentile, an Iwo Jima veteran and founder/president of the National Iwo Jima Survivors Association, Inc., solicited bids from master craftsmen for the creation of a clay model for the group’s proposed Iwo Jima monument in Newington, Connecticut.  The Association selected the bid submitted by Sculpture House Casting of New York, whose owner, Mr. Alex Ettl, then commissioned sculptor Joseph Petrovics to sculpt the clay model.  Iwo Jima survivors (including Dr. Gentile) brought battle gear and uniform pieces to Petrovics, and advised him as he created the clay model. 

Sculpture House Casting made molds from the clay model and used those molds to cast the bronze statue of the six flagraisers.  The Iwo Jima Memorial Monument was dedicated in Newington, Connecticut on February 23, 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the flag raisings on Iwo Jima, and declared the National Iwo Jima Memorial in 1996.

The PWMA worked closely with the National Iwo Jima Survivors Association to coordinate the casting of the bronze for the Hawaii memorial, using the same molds as were used to produce the National Iwo Jima Memorial in Connecticut.  The PWMA Board of Directors selected Honolulu architect John Howard Wheeler, AIA, as the project architect.  Dick Pacific Construction Co., Ltd., under the direction of President/CEO Mr. Denny Watts, was chosen to perform the site and monument base preparation.  Mr. Hitoshi Hida, a principal at Group 70 Design in Honolulu, created the Artist’s Rendering for the project.  Mr. Craig Hirasaki provided the graphics for the inscription of the monument’s black granite panels.

Between March 2000 and March 2002, the PWMA raised the needed funds through direct donations and purchase of the Artist’s Rendering and commemorative inscribed bricks (to be included in “The Walkway of Honor”).  The PWMA website (www.pacificwarmemorial.org) proved very successful as an effective showcase for the memorial project. 

Sculpture House Casting (now under the guidance and direction of majority owner and president Mr. Salvatore Perrotta, with headquarters located within a mile of “Ground Zero” in New York City) used the Connecticut molds to cast the bronze portion of the Pacific War Memorial.  The bronze statue was then carefully crated for shipment and flown from New York to Hawaii in February 2002 at a cost of approximately $22,000, including $8,000 for crate construction and $14,000 for air cargo costs.  Undamaged in shipment, the bronze was uncrated at Marine Corps Base Hawaii the day after it arrived, not far from the concrete base that Dick Pacific Construction Company, Ltd. personnel had already prepared.  Metal rods that had been removed from the base of the monument because of crating difficulties were reattached.  The following day, a huge crane was used to “seat” the bronze atop the concrete base of the monument, after the metal rods were carefully aligned with holes drilled into the base.  After the installation of the bronze, Dick Pacific personnel also installed the ten inscribed black granite panels on the walls of the base, put in light fixtures to illuminate the national ensign (that would fly, night and day, from the bronze flagpole), laid blank bricks (some of which have been or will be replaced by bricks inscribed with the names of many of those who served in the Pacific during WWII) to form the “Walkway of Honor,” and landscaped the immediate area around the memorial.

THE GRANITE

     The black granite for the ten panels that surround the base of the monument was quarried in Africa, then sawn and polished in Cold Springs, Minnesota.  The panels were inscribed by Columbia River Monuments in Hermiston, Oregon, under the direction of owner Mr. Marty Schmid.  The lettering and photographs were sand-blasted into the granite, using a computerized rubber stencil.  The completed granite panels were then shipped by air to Hawaii and put in place around the monument base, under the direction of a Columbia River Monuments representative.

IN-KIND PROJECT ASSISTANCE

      More than one-third of the cost of the Pacific War Memorial project was provided by “in-kind “ assistance (site preparation, construction of the monument base, bricklaying, transport, landscaping, materials and more) from Dick Pacific Construction Company, Ltd. and a number of other companies and individuals.  Donald Jones -- master stone mason, owner of Hawaii Stone, long-time Hawaii resident and Marine Corps veteran (Vietnam) -- provided both rock-setting skills and the rocks and materials that lie above the granite panels, under the feet of the flag-raisers.  He also made and donated the four polished basalt benches near the monument and the base for an acknowledgement plaque to be placed on the Kaneohe Bay side of the monument.  The artist’s rendering by Mr. Hitoshi Hida of Group 70 in Honolulu and the inscription graphics on the granite were also in-kind donations. 

 IN GRATITUDE

       Alice and Bee Clark, neither of whom ever served in the military, began their two projects – in Kamuela on the Big Island, and here on O’ahu, at Kaneohe – long before September 11, 2001.  They have worked from 1995 to the present day, without pay, at great and varied personal cost, to make the Pacific War Memorial -- and the Camp Tarawa project -- a reality.  They have traveled throughout the U.S. Mainland to share their vision for a memorial at Parker Ranch and Dr. Gentile’s vision for a memorial in Hawaii, to be shared with the world.

        Along the way, Mrs. Clark became an expert in oral history collection and photographic and videographic documentation.  She involved and taught hundreds of school children and their teachers and families how to interview and record oral histories, and how to archive them for posterity.  Bee learned the intricacies of logistical support, and the cost of document and photographic reproduction.  Alice and Bee learned about the American military experience in the Pacific during World War II directly from veterans they met on their travels, many of whom have visited or plan to visit the memorials in Hawaii.  Some of the veterans have volunteered to donate items of memorabilia, if a historical center or collection can be established in Hawaii, to help tell the story more fully.  Both Alice and Bee say that this is their last project, but only time will tell.

       One thing is certain.  Every visitor who ever comes to gaze upon either of these beautiful memorials – at Parker Ranch on the Big Island and at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay -- owes a debt of gratitude to Alice and Bee Clark.  Working steadfastly over several years, they have been the driving force behind the creation of a bridge to the past to honor the members of the U.S. military of all services who have trained and served here in the Pacific and the people of these Hawaiian islands, who have so generously provided training areas and aloha.

- Article written by Sarah Fry, PAO, Marine Corps Base Hawaii -

   

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