RAINED! HOW IT RAINED!
are many legends concerning the way in which the Fourth Marine
Division got Camp Maui as a rest camp. Some say it was originally
intended for the Army but they would have none of it, which made
it just the thing for Marines. Others say it was a deliberate conspiracy
on the part of the High Command who wanted to simulate combat conditions.
Whatever the truth, everyone agreed that originally, the term "rest
camp was a misnomer. This much there was agreement about:
Camp Maui sprawled 1,500 feet above sea level on the side of
the world's largest extinct volcano, Haleakala, whose broad
rim soared nearly 10,000 feet into the sky. To the old Hawaiian
natives, Haleakala personified the majestic power of a higher
being and it was into its crater that the legendary Madame
Pele, as an act of appeasement, threw roast pig, silk handkerchiefs,
to the Marines, Haleakala was simply the cause of a meteorological
freak. Rain clouds, passing over its crest, descended to warmer
levels and dumped their moisture. Hospitable islanders pointed
out that we had arrived during the rainy season. One story
is that a Marine's shoes came off in a ditch one night and
he did not miss them for three days. He had been unlacing the
mud at night and putting it back on again in the mornings.
weather was always a good subject of conversation in Camp Maui
because it was always different.
men of the Fourth had their first glimpse of Maui from the
transports on the way to the Marshalls as the ships lay off
Lahaina Roads for a day to provision. The great fields of sugar
cane, the palm trees, mountains, and beaches had a story-book
in late February 1944, the Fourth returned to make the island
its home, the beauty was still there; and at close range it
was prettier than ever. The long convoy of trucks that wound
from the Kahului docks through Paia and Makawao passed under
blossoming flame and shower trees, past hibiscus and wild roses,
past green clapboard houses from which curious islanders peered.
Three times in 15 months the Fourth Division was to make this
journey from the Kahului docks to camp, and each time Maui
seemed more beautiful.
in spite of the mud and the wind and the rain and the first
pangs of homesickness for the States, slowly, civilization
began to grow out of barren fields. Buildings went up for offices,
tents for living quarters; messhalls were constructed and roads
carved through the mire. Post Exchanges opened up with supplies
of "pogey bait,"
tobacco, and enough beer for two bottles per man a night. Movie
screens and stages were built in each regimental area. Ball diamonds
were laid out and boxing rings constructed. Company libraries
were opened, and Marines had their choice of 73 magazines. Chaplains,
somehow, procured enough lumber for chapels; electric lights
were installed in all tents; public-address systems were wired
into the company areas and used for piping announcements and
the latest music to Marines. Within a few months Camp Maui had
become a relatively decent place to live.
went on, too. New men joined the Division to replace casualties
suffered at Namur. The Army's jungle Training Center was opened
to Marines, and several units went through the paces of this
glorified obstacle course. Command Post exercises, overnight
problems, and hikes became weekly routine.
entertainment the units had nightly movies in the rain, naturally,
traveling USO shows, and local hula troupes. The hula girls
took their art seriously and tried to bring the Marines some
of the old Hawaiian culture. Later, the Fourth organized its
own show, "The Fubar Follies"
with Sergeant Lee Cohen as Master of Ceremonies and such talented
people as Ed Grower, Eddie Martin, Bill Bloxom, Tom Zackem, Jr.,
and Jack Flynn as entertainers. This nucleus expanded and with
the addition of some new acts and the Twenty-fourth's dance band
became the "Just 4 Fun Show" and toured the Pacific
in Navy transport planes. They played the "foxhole circuit," giving
shows at Roi, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, and Johnston islands, and
became probably the best known service troupe in the Pacific.
April 1, 1944, General Harry Schmidt made the first of several
mass presentations of the Purple Heart during the Division's
stay on Maui.
"This medal is not offered in compensation for the wounds
you have suffered," he said. "It is a symbol. It betokens
a nation's respect for the sacrifices you have made." Thousands
of Marines were to receive the Purple Heart at one time or another
April 26, 1944, Admiral Nimitz journeyed to Camp Maui to present
awards to men who had earned them at Roi-Namur. "The world
knows of the gallant performance and achievement of the men
who fought at Roi and Namur Islands.... There, the Fourth Division
wrote another brilliant chapter in the chronicles of the Marine
again, on Maui, words like these were to be spoken to men of
the Fourth, after Saipan-Tinian, and after Iwo Jima. And each
time there were fewer of the original Fourth to hear them.
On July 4, 1945, a parade was held on the Camp Maui airstrip,
at which time 714 men of the Division were decorated. Following
this, on August 16, another ceremony was held on the airstrip.
At this time the Presidential Unit Citation and the Asiatic-Pacific
Theater streamers were attached to the Division and Regimental
April 30, 1944, the Division opened its own airstrip for "flying
jeeps." VMO-4 (Observation Squadron 4) was attached to
the Division as an "aerial OP." Henceforth it would
accompany the Fourth on operations to fly tactical observation
and artillery spotting missions. Little larger than a Piper
Cub, the two seater Stinsons were affectionately named "F4U-Pocket
Edition," "The Last Straw," and
"SB Doodle-bug." Lieutenant Colonel William R. Wendt
was Division Air Officer.
the months rolled by, Maui more and more became "home"
to the men of the Fourth. USOs in Haiku, Makawao, Kahului, and
Wailuku furnished hot showers, games, swimming, tennis, dances,
and refreshments. It was here that Marines met the girls of Maui;
many a friendship was formed and many a romance blossomed. Back
in camp, officer and NCO clubs were built and the beer lines
at Post Exchanges became longer and longer.
were unofficial USOs too, notably the bars at the Maui Grand
and Wailuku Hotels. Putting on the Marine equivalent of "tux
some of the battalions held dances at the hotels, inviting local
girls to be their guests. Officers took over the Maui Country
Club on several occasions for dances.
terrain and beaches of Maui provided excellent and rugged training
ground. All the Division's amphibious maneuvers for the Marianas
and Iwo Jima operations were held off Maalaea Bay. Haleakala
became a super obstacle course and 13-mile hikes through its
crater, a challenge to those who thought they had tough leg
muscles. A total of 47 training areas, many of them belonging
to the Army, were available to the Division. Six areas, consisting
of gulches and rough terrain, near the camp, were used for
non-tactical maneuvering. On the outskirts of camp, a demolitions
area, a live-grenade course, a pistol range, and 1000-inch
machine-gun range were set up. Five miles east of camp, in
a gulch opening into the sea, was the Division's bazooka area,
and along the coast, east of camp for about ten miles, were
combat firing ranges which permitted the maneuvering and firing
of tanks and halftracks in coordination with the infantry.
The Division's 100-target rifle range at Opana Point was also
located in this area. Another area in the vicinity was used
to train motor transport drivers in the movement of troops
and supplies under both day and night conditions of combat.
facilities on Maui available to the Division, according to
Fourth Division records, "consisted of a jungle training
center, a village fighting course, a cave fighting course,
and an infiltration course. The fortified jungle position consisted
of 22 pillboxes and emplacements well concealed in bamboo groves,
under the roots of banyan trees, and in thick undergrowth."
addition to all this, there was a mortar and artillery impact
area, a seacoast artillery range and an antiaircraft firing
area. The Maalaea Bay area furnished an antitank moving-target
range, a close-combat range, and a 20-point rifle range. The
beach at Maalaea Bay was fortified with pillboxes and emplacements
modeled after the Tarawa Beach. Inland were two artillery positions
and maneuver areas. In the center of the island, near the Puunene
Air Station, were, the Division's tank maneuver areas.
was always high in the Fourth Division. To a great extent,
this might be attributed to the well rounded sports program
which the Division fostered, a program which embraced individual
sports as well as competitive sports and which allowed not
only inter-battalion and inter-regimental competition but allowed
competition with Army and Navy units from Maui and neighboring
islands as well. Baseball diamonds, handball courts, volleyball
courts, and boxing rings dotted the camp; gymnasiums and tennis
courts were available in neighboring towns; two golf courses
were open to personnel of the Division; the Puunene Naval Air
Station offered gymnasium and swimming pool privileges, and
there was plenty of ocean, too, to swim in. At Haiku there
was a good football field for practice games, in addition to
one at Kahului, and all units had a plentiful supply of recreational
gear. As a result, the Fourth was a division that was sportsminded
to a high degree; and this paid off a hundredfold in combat
and in rehabilitation.
Division's interest in sports is perhaps best illustrated by
the Division's football team, organized when the Fourth returned
to Maui from the Marianas in August 1944. Coached by Lieutenant
"Pat" Hanley, the Division Athletic and Morale Officer
and former coach at Boston University, the team played seven
games and was never defeated. In only one game (against the Kaneohe
Klippers) did an opposing team score, and the Maui Marines finished
the season as champions of the Central Pacific with a record
of 164 points against only six for their opponents. Even more
remarkable is that not once during the entire season did this
team ever have to call time out for an injury.
sumnming up the accomplishments of the Division's team, the
Puunene Naval Air Station's Island Breeze said:
a great football team ... one of the greatest football teams
we have ever seen--professional, collegiate, or service. This
team was not only an outfit with skillful players and a splendid
coach, it was above all an organization with an indomitable
spirit.... We are very certain of the fact that these fighting
men of the Fourth Division had the greatest stamina and above
all the finest team spirit of any organization we have ever
on the island threw open their doors to the Marines and will
be gratefully remembered by hundreds of men in the Fourth for
their gracious hospitality. Citizens of Maui proved that "Aloha"
was more than a word. The Fourth soon became "Maui's own"
and the traditional island slogan "Maui No Ka Oi," became
"Maui Marines No Ka Oi." (A free translation of this
would be "Maui Marines are the best.") Who will ever
forget the reception that Maui gave the Fourth when it returned
from Iwo? It is not an exaggeration to say that no division anywhere
received a more heartwarming welcome when it came back from battle.
This welcome was also expressed in the words of a small pamphlet
given to each returning Marine:
you Marines! Welcome home! It's no "snow job" when
we tell you that the servicemen and women and the civilians
of Maui are throwing this big shindig for you because we think
you're just about the greatest guys that ever landed on this
Island. When the news came over the radio that the Marines
had hit Iwo Jima, everybody asked the same question, "Are
the Maui Marines there?" Then we heard the news flash
that you and a lot of other Marines were in there pitching.
After that, nothing else that happened seemed to matter very
much. We don't need to tell you that everyone from Hana to
Lahaina is mighty proud of you. And when we read that you had
named that first street
"Maui Boulevard", we were practically bursting at the
welcome to Maui--the old friends and the new! Welcome to Iao
Valley and Haleakala---to the rainbows and the rain (that everlasting
rain at Camp Maui)-the steaks and the banana splits--the pineapples
and the poi--the carnation leis and the steel guitars. But,
most important of all, welcome back to all the folks on Maui
who think it might be a pretty good idea to add a new word
to the famous slogan, MAUI NO KA OI and let the world know it
is now, MAUI MARINES NO KA OI!
PEOPLE OF MAUI.
its return from Iwo, the Division put the finishing touches
on Camp Maui. Improvements soon made living conditions the
best yet. Roads were paved; Red Cross recreation huts were
built, where coffee and doughnuts were served in the evening
by the first women ever to be attached to the Division overseas.
Frame buildings took the place of tents for chapels and a number
of auditoriums went up, finally making it possible to see movies
without getting wet. A USO club was built near the Twenty-third
Headquarters. New athletic fields were laid out; one of them,
in the Twenty-third area, dedicated to the Division's star
football player, Howard "Smiley" Johnson, who had
been killed on Iwo. A boxing arena went up and the Division
airstrip was converted into a parade ground. For the old timers,
who had slogged around in the mud when the Division first came
to Maui, it didn't seem quite right. They weren't kidding anybody,
though. Everyone enjoyed it, for Maui had become just about
the next best place to home.