Barbara The Latch, John The Hinge.
WAIKOLOA: To open a door you release the latch and swing it wide on the hinge. So it was with the projected U.S. Marine Monument to commemorate Camp Tarawa in Waimea, where the Second and Fifth U.S. Marines maintained a camp in World War II. It started this way. A Fifth Division Marine, wandered into a shop in the Sheraton Hotel, at Waikoloa and fell into conversation with a local resident, Barbara Elliott, who is both knowledgeable, charming, and would call my husband if she sensed a story. The Marine, Mike Dietz, bemoaned the fact that there were only blank fields and sighing winds where once stood a camp for some 25,000 men. Nothing marked an entrance or told returning Marines where such an important segment of their lives had taken place. It was as if it never had happened; Yet many do return, Dietz, who is from Tucson, Ariz., came to our house for drinks and remembrances. He said the main reason that he was in Hawai'i was to return to the place he had trained so rigorously for the assault on Iwo Jima.
It was not all beer and skittles for Marines in Waimea. Forced marches and incessant drills were the order of the day. They hewed and slashed their way through thick underbrush and tramped over raw lava in North Kohala. They toted full 'packs and rifles up steep Buster Brown Hill, that flanks Waimea,
on the double. Dietz said he hated that "damned pu'u" for officers watched below and woe betide the
Marine who dropped any of his gear. It simply meant an immediate return trip on the run.
Tents were located on both sides of Mamalahoa Highway; the site of the, current elementary school was their hospital, and the old Kahilu Hall was the USO. Amusements were scarce in the country town of 1943 Waimea, especially on $54 a month, but people were friendly and understanding. Many Marines were treated to luaus and entertained by families. Dietz suggested that my husband, John, write to Charlie Nightingale in Virginia, who had been trying unsuccessfully to procure a monument, in Waimea. John suggested the Exchange Club of Waimea make this one of their projects. A voluminous correspondence developed between Nightingale and John as they, enlisted funds and aid for the Second and Fifth U.S. Marines memorial. Rep. Daniel Akaka, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Richard Smart all agreed to help in any way they could.
A plaque for the monument was cast by Wayne Bellamy of Phoenix, Ariz. and awaits emplacement on a stone, which has been selected by local Marine Leroy Lindsey, who will sculpt it in the shape of Mount Suribachi. Dietz had a letter published recently 'in . the Hawai'i Tribune Herald. He said, "It was through John Raleigh's efforts that this project ever-got under way." So you see, Barbara Elliott was the latch and John Raleigh the hinge. Now the Exchange Club and Charlie Nightingale is anxious to complete the project. What is holding it up? They must wait confirmation from the State Board of Land and Natural Resources for the tiny plot of land needed for the marker. Let's hope that will be soon to have everything ready for the dedication planned for July 3 when the Marines are planning to gather here.
By: Amanda Raliegh
May 2, 1985
Note: The Barbara Elliott in the article is an Associate Member of our detachment and now living in Southern California.
Camp Tarawa Monument History-Parker Ranch-Waimea.
The Etched Granite Panels Were Added And Dedicated March 29, 1998
Alice and "Bee" Clark long time residents of Waimea also realized that the town Waimea (Kamuela) 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.
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
History and Tradition are the Life-blood of our Corps
"Camp Tarawa Detachment Docents Motto"