A new World War II exhibit marking the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war opened Nov. 1 at the Story of Hawai‘i Museum in Lahaina. “The Road to Pearl Harbor” is an interactive exhibit presented in a “fresh and timely” manner using vintage maps, prints, artifacts, military documents that show events leading to the war, battle strategies, and outcomes that shaped history.
Worldwide, Dec. 7 is remembered as America’s entry into WWII; for the history of Maui, the state, and all Pacific Islanders, it is significant to remember that battles in the Pacific Theater of WWII – Tarawa, Bataan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima – were some of the most costly, hard fought, and destructive military engagements of the 20th century.
The public can also learn about life on Maui during that time, with part of the exhibit focusing on the 18,000-member 4th Marine Division, which trained and recuperated on Maui between combat deployments to the Central Pacific. Maui locals and visitors will see photos of jungle training in Ha‘iku, amphibious assault training at Makena and Ma‘alaea, and military airfields at Pu‘unene. Also on display are photos taken at the famous Giggle Hill on Kokomo in Ha‘iku, where Marines courted young Maui women; the gathering place is now officially known as 4th Marine Division Memorial Park.
Original maps and artifacts on display are from the private collection of Bryant Neal, whose research of Japanese war records has resulted in what the museum says is a powerful display about Pearl Harbor and WWII from the Japanese Imperial Army’s perspective. Select originals and reproduction maps will be available for purchase.
The exhibit also includes photos of the holdings at The Camp Maui Museum, located on the the actual site of Camp Maui in Ha‘iku, where the Hoyte family has assembled a display of WWII transport trucks, jeeps, and a working P51 Mustang replica aircraft. Camp Maui Museum also has a collection of WWII US Marine Corps equipment, uniforms, and memorabilia.
The self-guided exhibit at the Outlets of Maui is curated by the Story of Hawai‘i Museum with support from Richard Mickelsen, The Navy League, Maui County Veterans Council, The County of Maui, and North Shore Zipline Camp Maui Tours.
The free, public exhibit runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 10, noon until 6 pm daily in unit F-2 at the Outlets of Maui. For further information or to arrange times for school tours and special showings for large groups, call 808-283-3576.
Photo courtesy Bryant Neal