Updates on this and that

Friends of Rufus – he’s doing much better, eating well, learning to take his pills fairly well and I’m getting better at giving them to him. We have hopes that he’s going to be fine. We’re back to one mile walks at least one time a day – half a mile for the other for now.

Pele has slowed down some and for now, neither Pahoa nor the main road into and out of Puna seems to be immediately threatened. There’s a lot of activity in Pahoa – some of the restaurants are reporting 75% increases in business as people have flocked to the town – some in support, some curious, and some wanting to be sure to get a ‘last taste of….’

Winnie The Resiliant has been doing some touristing in Brisbane, went to see The Maze Runner – the director, Wes Ball, is our mutual cousin. She said it was a good movie for kids, maybe not so much for folks our age. Tomorrow she is going to the zoo and then she’ll be flying off to Wellington to begin her land tour of New Zealand. She’s certainly the heroine of making lemonade out of a big basket of lemons she got handed with the cancelled Princess cruise.

In terms of our upcoming plans – everything is looking good for our spring trip to Southeast Asia and our bucket list items of Burma and Angkor Wat, and I got the outbound flights for our August river cruise/Lake District/Transatlantic cruise with a nice mileage upgrade to flat bed business from Honolulu to Dulles and Dulles to Amsterdam – downside is a 10 hour layover in Dulles. Probably we will get a ‘day room’ at the Marriott at the airport as there’s not all that much to do at Dulles. This trip will tick a number of bucket list items – the Rhine river cruise, Lake District in England, and – fingers crossed, those Northern Lights in Iceland.

Best laid plans gang WAY WAY agley

Well, poor Winnie had a dreadful – and full – flight, with lots of screaming kids when we had thought she would have three seats across when we did the final seat selections the night before.  On top of that, when she finally arrived in Brisbane, to await the Princess transfer to Sydney to the ship, she overheard some folks from the cruise in the coffee shop talking about the cruise being cancelled.  That is a heck of a way to have to find out but it was, in fact, the case, and her long-awaited and planned for cruise around New Zealand is kaput.

Princess has been, evidently, way less than helpful in the overall situation.  Winnie said that the local cruisers are basically being left to their own devices to get themselves home.  She was offered a modicum of help with her flights back to Virginia, but not much else.  She called me and we started to look around for alternatives.  I couldn’t find much that I thought would be interesting and cost-effective.  However, Winnie was out for a walk in Brisbane, saw a travel agency and went in to see what they might suggest.  Long story short, she’s found a really nice land based tour, going from Wellington to Auckland, and she’ll be able to use her existing pre-paid hotel and her existing flights home.  High marks for my cuz for her resilience!

Cruise Critic posts from the roll call were scathing and there are a lot of very unhappy people.  Princess hasn’t handled this at all well, IMHO, in spite of their generous financial settlement – 100% refund and 100% future cruise credit, plus some coverage of travel costs.  Communication, which is a key element for successful handling of unpleasant occurrences like this, has been sadly lacking from the get go with this cruise.  The official website has had a minimal amount of information and we have gotten much more accurate and up to date information from Cruise Critic and Facebook than we have from Princess either directly or through the travel agent.

I’m hoping for better things from this point on and that Winnie’s quick thinking and prompt actions will salvage her vacation and give her a nice trip in New Zealand.  It would have been so heartbreaking to come halfway around the world and then miss the thing you came to see.



The Bucket List

We’ve been really fortunate to have been able to travel widely over the last decade or so, and have worked down the bucket list pretty far, but there are still a goodish number of things we want to see, do, and experience. Several of these are on our upcoming travel list for 2015, notably Burma/Myanmar and Angkor Wat in the spring, and, if we get lucky, the Northern Lights in the fall on our planned transatlantic cruise that will have three stops in Iceland.

In the course of doing some research on when one is likely to be able to view the Aurora Borealis and what kinds of conditions are most favorable and so on, I ran across an absolutely amazing video of a combination that I very much doubt we will be privileged to see – the Aurora above an erupting volcano. Since we live with an active volcano more or less in the back yard, and are familiar with how short-lived the phenonmena shown in this video really are, I have no expectations about getting to see any of this in person, but it surely is spectacular.


The Best Laid Plans

One tends to expect that plans, particularly travel plans, will go the way you intend for them to go, and somehow, the longer those plans have been in place, the more expectation you have that they will ‘go according to plan.’  We’ve been in the midst of a lot of plans that didn’t go as planned in the last month, though – first with our sick pup and our cancellation of our Japan cruise, and now, with mechanical problems on Sea Princess for Cousin Winnie’s long-awaited around New Zealand cruise that was part and parcel of her plans to come here to house and dog sit and then leave from here to go to Brisbane to pick up the ship.

One of my friends, who is a cruise director, always says “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!” and those have really been words to live by this last month or so.  I tend to over plan and also have a back up plan or two in my back pocket, but even I have been challenged to stay flexible these last few days.  Our cancellation went fine, all in all, and we have substituted a transatlantic next September for the Japan cruise we missed and re-structured our planned stay in the Lake District to accommodate.  It didn’t require much as the time horizon was so great that everything we already had in place for that trip was easily adjusted.  However, the situation with Winnie’s Sea Princess cruise is quite different.

Sea Princess was our first ship, ever, back in 2002, when she was still pretty new.  She’s been out of the Princess fleet – sent to P & O UK, where she sailed for a few years as the Adonia – and the back to the Princess fleet, mostly doing Europe and the Caribbean, and then most recently, along with her sister ships Dawn and Sun, she’s been deployed from Australia, doing Pacific and Asia itineraries.  All season long, there have been reports of propulsion issues and several cruises have been rearranged to accommodate a slower cruising speed and ports have been missed and complaints have mounted, but supposedly, repairs were being made in Singapore and things were supposed to be fine for her Australia/New Zealand season.

Didn’t quite work out this way, however.  There were problems on the Singapore to Fremantle repositioning cruise, and, ultimately, the Fremantle to Brisbane cruise prior to Winnie’s was cancelled entirely.  Princess was quite generous to everyone who had booked, giving full refunds, covering travel costs, and offering a 100% of cruise fare paid as a future cruise credit, and the ship was sent to Sydney for dry dock and repairs with expectations that the Brisbane roundtrip around New Zealand would be able to go as scheduled.  We have been anxiously watching and waiting through the process and checking constantly for updates, notifications and so on by email and on the Princess website.  Outside of the initial announcement of the cancellation and transfer of the ship to Sydney,  there has been nothing on the website or direct from Princess to Winnie or to her travel agent, although there were posting to the roll call forum on Cruise Critic from other passengers who did receive updates, either directly or from their travel agents.

Since I also have been watching the Cruise Critic (www.cruisecritic.com) roll call religiously, though, we did see, initially, yesterday, a post that all was well and that the cruise would be leaving from Brisbane as scheduled.  However, this was followed very closely by two posts that showed  copies of communications to other passengers (who live in Australia) that stated that Sea Princess’ repairs were taking longer than anticipated and that the cruise would be leaving from Sydney, not Brisbane, and that it would leave a day later and would miss Auckland entirely.

Not knowing if this was legitimate or not, we called yesterday afternoon to see if Princess would verify the information that was posted.  As seems to happen pretty often, the posters on Cruise Critic were actually better informed than the staff at the Princess headquarters in Santa Clarita.  The first frightening thing we were told by the otherwise very nice young man from Princess was that Winnie would have to go from Brisbane to Sydney on a bus – an 11 hour ride, on top of her 11 or so hour flight.  At that point, we asked if Princess would consider paying for the change fees and increased fare charges to fly from Honolulu to Sydney instead of Honolulu to Brisbane.  He couldn’t authorize that, no one who was on duty at the time could and we were told to call back this morning.

Happily, by this morning, Princess was starting to get their act together, and, although it would have been really nice for Winnie to have gotten a couple of days in Sydney, they declined to pay for the re-routing, as they had made arrangements to get everyone from Brisbane to Sydney – by plane, not by motor coach, so Winnie will have an afternoon flight into Sydney, but won’t have time for any sightseeing, I’m afraid, as she won’t arrive until 2 PM and it is about an hour from the airport to the port – probably won’t get in until around 4ish and the ship will leave at 7 PM.

At this point, we are just hopeful that the repairs to the ship will, in fact, be completed by the time of the newly scheduled departure and no more ports will be lost.  Meanwhile, we are doing our best to be among the blessedly flexible and not get bent out of shape, and, I must say, Princess is being quite generous in their arrangements and compensations for the inconveniences – covering the costs, making the arrangements, and offering a 30% of the fare paid as a future cruise credit for all passengers.  They won’t make much on this cruise, but they may get a few new bookings out of it in the end.




In the Path of Pele

Looks as though Pahoa may be the next and latest victim of Madam Pele’s ongoing eruption. Thus far, since the current eruption started in January of 1983, over 200 homes have been destroyed, dozens of others have been moved and relocated (including one of the famous Painted Churches) and landmarks such as the Queen’s Baths and the black sand beach have been covered over by lava flows.

On June 27 of this year a new vent opened on the side of Pu’u O’o and lava started to flow in the direction of Pahoa, through a series of cracks and then as surface flows, moving at varying speeds depending on the slope of the land and the terrain. Most recently, the flows have hit forested areas, and brush fires are burning, and, if the flow continues, it appears to be headed right for Pahoa, a small town (population around 975) and for the main road that services Puna district and handles around 7000 cars daily.

The County is busily opening up new roads, and gravelling some old tracks to make it possible to access the rest of the island, but it is quite possible that Pele will reclaim a number of developments in Puna as she already has with Kalapana and Royal Gardens.


It raises the question, at least in my mind, as to why the County has allowed development in this high risk zone, particularly since the dangers attendent to such development were so clearly brought home with the total destruction of Kalapana over 20 years ago now. It only took one tsunami for Hilo to forbid construction in the area that was destroyed and to create a ‘buffer zone’ so that such loss of life and destruction was not risked again. However, areas at high risk for volcanic inundation continue to be approved for building. I find it very puzzling.

As usually happens when a flow is threatening an inhabited area, there are calls for ‘the government’ to attempt to stop or redirect the flow, and counter protests about not trying to thwart the will of Madam Pele. This time is no exception with both calls for diversion and counter arguments being heard at a recent ‘lava meeting’ in Pahoa.  On the subject of diversion, the Hawaii Volcanos Observatory had this to say in 2007:

Engineered lava flow diversion in Hawai`i has a short history, possibly starting with some unsuccessful wall-building in the Kukuau area of Hilo to control the advance of a Mauna Loa pahoehoe flow in 1881 and in Puna to control Kilauea lava flows in 1955 and 1960. Aerial bombing was tried on Mauna Loa flows advancing on Hilo in 1935 and in 1942 without success. Water quenching was tried unsuccessfully in 1989 as a pahoehoe lava flow advanced on the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Waha`ula Visitor Center.

The technology of lava diversion is pretty simple and capitalizes on observations of the way lava flows behave. Strategically placed barriers on sloping ground could, theoretically, deflect lava flows from highly developed areas into less developed areas. Water-quenching could, theoretically, freeze an advancing lava flow front and deflect the molten portion behind it onto another path. Explosives could, theoretically, be used to breach established lava tubes, channels, or vent walls to deflect lava onto different paths and rob the threatening flow of its supply.

There have been some successful attempts at lava diversion elsewhere in the world. The most well-known and successful water-quenching effort was the campaign to save Vestmannaeyjar harbor at Heimaey Island, Iceland. A thick, blocky, slow-moving lava flow from an eruption of Eldfell volcano in January 1973 threatened to close off the harbor, a nationally important resource.

When the eruption ended more than five months later, the harbor entrance had been preserved. The effort required the pumping of about 6 million cubic meters (1.5 billion gallons) of seawater, which solidified an estimated 4 million cubic meters of molten lava (1 billion gallons) (of the 250 million cubic meters of lava and ash produced during the eruption) at a cost of $1.5 million. The effort succeeded primarily because the lava flow was slow-moving, allowed time to act, advanced along the coastline (where seawater was readily available), and lasted only five months.

Two other important lava diversions were attempted at Mount Etna on the island of Sicily. The earliest documented lava diversion was in 1669, when a channel feeding a lava flow headed toward the city of Catania was artificially breached by a group of Catania townsfolk. The effort was technically successful, but the celebration was short-lived, because the diverted flow headed for the town of Paterno, whose people were not pleased. The Paterno folk then prevented the Catania folk from maintaining their artificial breach, which sealed up. The flow continued toward Catania and produced substantial destruction.

After a number of attempts in intervening years, the most recent success came in May 1992. Lava flows from the 1991 eruption of Mount Etna were threatening the town of Zafferana. Barriers and explosives were used in several attempts to save the town, but none successfully halted or deflected the flow. Success was finally achieved by an explosive-induced breach of a channel, which diverted about two-thirds of the supply into an artificial trench. Dumping blocks into the channel stopped up the remaining channel flowage, achieving 100 per cent diversion.

Can lava diversion be used successfully in Hawai`i? The answer is pretty clear: only under optimum circumstances. Quenching requires so much water that it may be practical only near the coast. Successful barriers and/or explosive-induced breaching would be practical only on flows that advance slowly enough to allow time for their planning and execution. The 1669 experience at Etna showed that any diversion requires a suitable place to put the lava.

Diversion during a short eruption has better chances at succeeding than during a long eruption. The 1973 Eldfell and 1992 Etna diversions may not have succeeded had their respective eruptions continued. The 1669 Etna diversion may have been judged successful had the eruption stopped before the flow reached Catania.

Cultural concerns are also important in Hawai`i. The Hawaiian culture has views on volcanism that differ from those of other cultures. Many Hawaiians were disturbed by the bombing of Mauna Loa lava flows in 1935 and 1942 and by inevitable discussions on the use of bombs for any lava diversion effort; they believe the practice to be offensive to Pele, the Hawaiian volcano deity.

Any hazard mitigation effort must be looked at in terms of its total cultural, social, and economic impact. Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory can advise on many of the technical aspects of volcanic or earthquake hazard mitigation, but the decisions on which course of action to take rest with officials of the County and State of Hawai`i.
USGS HVO Volcano Watch, December 6, 2007

Princess RuthMore successful was the intervention of Princess Ruth, great granddaughter of Kamehameha I,  back in 1880 when, according to Merlin Stone in his  Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood : ” despite discouragement of Pele’s worship by Christian missionaries …when Mauna Loa erupted in 1880, sixty-three year old Princess Ruth Keelikolani still knew the ancient chants of the priestesses of Pele.  In order to protect the town of Hilo, the princess walked up to the edge of the lava flow, reciting the ancient chants and presenting Pele’s lava stream with gifts of silk cloths and brandy (to represent the ancient sacred “awa” drink). The eruption stopped the very next day before the lava ever reached Hilo! A similar thing occurred in 1955 when the village of Kapoho was threatened. Villagers offered Pele gifts of food and tobacco and again, the lava stream stopped just before reaching the village.

It remains to be seen how hungry Madam Pele is at this point in time and what it will take to satisfy her, but it is clear that everyone who lives in the Path of Pele does so on her sufferance!

The Portuguese in Hawaii

It may well be that it was a Portuguese captain on a Spanish ship who was the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, some 200 years before the voyages of Captain Cook, but the influence of the Portuguese on Hawaiian life had to wait until the late 1800s when workers were imported, principally from Maderia and the Azores, to work on the plantations. By 1900 there were nearly 15,000 Portuguese workers in Hawaii.

Many of the contributions of the Portuguese are in the culinary field – Portuguese Sweet Bread, which is also sold as Hawaiian Sweet Bread, Portuguese sausage, bean soup, and the delicious doughnut without a hole called a malasada. The best ones on our island are made at a diner in Honoka’a called Tex Drive-In, but they aren’t that hard to do on your own if you are so inclined:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
6 eggs
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
2 cups white sugar 

Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/4 cup warm water; set aside. In small bowl, beat eggs until thick. Put flour in large bowl, making a well in the center. Into the well add yeast, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, milk, 1 cup water, and salt. Beat thoroughly to form a soft, smooth dough. Cover, let dough rise until doubled. Heat oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Drop dough by big teaspoonfuls into oil, fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, shake in a bag of sugar to coat, and serve hot.

Other contributions from Portugal include the steel guitar and the ubiquitous Hawaiian instrument, the ukulele – the name is generally held to mean jumping flea, but Queen Liliuokalani, who played the instrument, said that it meant gift from afar. The ukulele was developed from a Portuguese instrument called a machete de braga, widely used in Maderia. The instrument arrived in the islands with a group of sugar cane field workers in 1879, on the ship Ravenscrag, and within a few weeks, was gaining recognition. An account in the Hawaii Gazette, less than two weeks later said: “a band of Portuguese musicians, composed of Madeira Islanders recently arrived here, have been delighting the people with nightly street concerts. The musicians are true performers on their strange instruments, which are a kind of cross between a guitar and a banjo, but which produce very sweet music.”
Happily for Hawaiian music, there were also three expert cabinet makers in the group from Maderia, and they responded quickly to the growing interest in the instrument by opening instrument shops in Honolulu. Their success was helped considerably by the patronage of Hawaii’s Merrie Monarch, King David Kalakaua. Gradually, the machete was redesigned, tuning was changed, and the local koa wood was employed in the manufacture, and the end result was the relatively easy to play ukulele. It became a symbol of Hawaii and by the early 1900s the Portuguese makers had been joined by notable Hawaiian manufacturers. In response to growing popularity, particularly after the Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, manufacture was also begun on the mainland and the first real wave of widespread popularity of the ukulele took off.

This craze continued into the 1920s and 30s with the ukulele a firm part of the Tin Pan Alley music scene, but by the late 30’s and into the 1940s, with the advent of the Big Band era, the widespread interest in the ukulele waned. It wasn’t until the 1950s with the radio broadcast of Hawaii Calls and the radio and tv exposure through the shows of Arthur Godfrey that the ukulele again became a popular instrument. Beach movies and Elvis Presley’s Hawaii movies in the 1950s and early 60s continued to feature and promote the ukulele, and then it again waned from public popularity during the rock and roll era. Manufacture and sales dropped to near nothing in the 1970s, but a gradual renaissance began in the 1980s and 90s, connected in part to the overall renaissance in Hawaiian culture, language, music and art, and in part due to the enormous exposure and popularity of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (Bruddah Iz) and his Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World recording that was featured in several motion pictures and advertising. If we didn’t thank the Portuguese for anything but this, they would be owed a huge Mahalo!

A Prince in the Congress


Along with many other ‘only in Hawaii’ elements – the only Royal Palace in the US, for example, and the only place in the US where coffee can be grown – Hawaii is the only place in the US that was once represented in Congress by a Prince.


Prince Kuhio

Jonah Kuhio Kalanianianaole , known as Prince Kuhio, was born on the island of Kauai in 1871, to High Chief and son of the last king of Kauai,Kahalepouli and his wife Princess Kinoiki Kekaulike, sister of Queen Kapiolani, the wife of King Kalakaua. He was raised in Koloa on the island of Kauai, and in the court of his uncle, King Kalakaua. He took part in all the official functions and receptions at the Palace, and attended the Royal School on Oahu, originally called the Chief’s Children School. He went on to study for at St. Matthew’s College in California, the royal Agricultural College in England, and eventually graduated from a business school also in England. He was a member of the Kalakaua dynasty and in 1884, at the age of 13, a proclamation ending the Kamehameha Dynasty also declared Kuhio a royal prince. Following his college days in England, he spent a year as the guest of the Japanese Government, an his uncle had hoped that we would marry a princess of the royal house of Japan. This was not to be, however, and King David Kalakaua appointed him head of the Department of the Interior and made him a member of his Cabinet upon his return to Hawaii.


Prince Kuhio in prison following failed rebellion

American businessmen overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893, deposing Queen Liliuokalani. Kuhio and his brother Kawananakoa joined other native Hawaiians in an unsuccessful attempt to restore the monarchy in 1894 and Prince Kuhio was sentenced to a year in prison and other participants in the rebellion were executed for treason against the republic. While he was in prison, he became engaged to a young chiefess, Elizabeth Kahanu Ka’auwai, and they were married soon after his release, and they left Hawaii for a tour of the world, visiting, among other places, South Africa, where Kuhio hunted big game. During his stay, the Boer War broke out and he joined the British Army to fight.

In 1901, Kuhio and his wife returned to the islands, resigned to the new status quo  of Hawaii as an American Territory, and in 1902, he was persuaded to become the Republican candidate for delegate to Congress, and was elected in a landslide for the first of  his 10 consecutive terms in Congress. In all these elections he garnered broad support, not only from the Native Hawaiians but also from the haole residents of the Territory. A former revolutionary, he nonetheless embraced the status of Hawaii as a Territory of the United States, and introduced the first Hawaiian Statehood bill in 1919.  In a speech he made on the floor of this House June 23, 1917, speaking of the death of several Hawaiian boys drowned when the steamer Aztec was torpedoed by a German submarine, he said: “Two thousand and odd miles out in the Pacific are the islands that constitute the Territory of Hawaii. Our fame for a beautiful, wonderful country is world-wide; but Hawaii is more than a playground, a retreat for tourists; it is the western frontier of our Republic. We Hawaiians guard the western doorway. While Hawaii stands, our coast line from Alaska down the long stretch to the Panama Canal Zone is safe from successful invasion or attack.” This statement seems almost prescient of the attack on Pearl Harbor some twenty years later.

Congressional Delegate Price Kuhio
Congressional Delegate Price Kuhio

Kuhio was often called Ke Ali’i Makaainana (Prince of  the People), and is best known for his efforts to preserve and strengthen the Hawaiian people and to develop home rule for Hawaii. While a delegate of Congress, where he served from 1903 until his death in 1922, he spearheaded the effort in the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.   This measure, to provide homesteads for native Hawaiians for an indefinite term at a nominal rental and for government loans to the settlers, passed in 1921, shortly before his death. He wanted to reestablish subsistence farming for the Hawaiian people so that they could provide for themselves rather than have to live in degraded conditions in the new urban centers where they adopted the vices of the white man, leading to racial and cultural extinction as he saw it. Prince Kuhio was also known for restoring the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and establishing the Hawaiian Civic Club.

In 1922, in his home at Waikiki and among his friends, Prince Kuhio died. A Honolulu newspaper of the period gave this account of his last days:

At Pualeilani through the night of vigil, while the Prince was sitting in his armchair, himself knowing that death could not long be barred from entrance to his chamber, he sat with his face toward the open door facing Kalakaua Avenue, his lessening vision drinking in deeply of the green verdure across the way in what was formerly the great acres of his aunt the Queen Dowager Kapiolani, in whose home he had spent so many happy days of his boyhood and young manhood. Sitting by his side was Princess Kalanianaole. She held his hand closely. The Prince smiled often as his eyes met those of his sweetheart Princess and he appeared to be hoping that her last view of him would be a memory of him still smiling.

He was the last titular prince of Hawaii and his funeral was the last royal funeral that was held in Hawaii. He was buried with all the pomp and pageantry of ancient Hawaiian royalty in the royal mausoleum in Nu’uanu on Oahu, with officials of the US and foreign Governments present in their official capacities and friends and admirers of all nationalities in attendance to pay their respects.
In 1949, the Territorial Legislature established March 26, his birth date, as Prince Kuhio Day. In 2002, a new statue honoring Prince Kuhio was dedicated in Waikiki. The artist, Sean K.L. Browne, said that sculpting the statute was of particular significance to him because he was raised on Hawaiian Homes lands, which exist thanks to the efforts of Hawaii’s Congressional delegate Prince.

The Hawaiian Poi Dog

Now, Poi Dog is commonly used to mean any mixed breed dog, but originally it referred to a specific, now extinct, type of medium to small dog that was common throughout the Polynesian world. Most likely, the breed originated in Asia and belonged to a group known as Pariah Dogs – among the earliest of domesticated dogs. Similar dogs such as the Kuri of New Zealand, were found throughout the Polynesian Triangle. The Poi Dog was a distinct variety of the Polynesian Dog, with short legs, a long body, erect ears, and a flattened head. A typical adult weight was between 20 and 35 pounds and the animals were around 12 inches at the shoulder, with a shape similar to today’s Corgis.
Poi Dogs arrived in Hawaii with the first humans somewhere between 300 and 800 AD, along with the Polynesian pigs with whom the Poi Dogs roamed.  Unlike in western cultures, the Polynesian dogs were not hunting or herding animals as there were no large herbivores to herd or hunt, and as there were no large land predators either, they were not needed as guard animals, either. The Poi Dogs were kept principally for food, secondarily as a companion, for religious purposes and as a good luck charm. As meat was at a premium, the dogs were fed a vegetarian diet, principally poi – a starch made from fermented and pounded taro roots.
The meat of the poi dog was considered a delicacy and was reserved for consumption at feasts and religious festivals and even then it was only served to men – it was, in general, ‘kapu’ or forbidden to the women. The diet of poi undoubtedly resulted in a number of health problems for the animals, and they were described by Europeans as being slow, obese, not very bright, and extremely difficult to train. Certain physical characteristics such as the jaw and jaw muscle atrophy and flattened head characteristic of the breed are thought to have been a result of their poi diet which did not require strong jaw muscles for chewing, and which, due to the lack of protein, kept the animals in a perpetual state of malnutrition.

Hawaiian Girl with poi dog circa 1818

Hawaiian children were often given a Poi Dog at birth and there are accounts of the baby and the puppy being breastfed together. If a child died before the dog, the dog would be killed and buried with the infant, and if the dog died before the child, a necklace would be made of the dog’s teeth as a good luck charm for the child. While obviously fond of their dogs, there was not the same kind of sentiment attached to the animals that pertained in the west, and even companion animals found their way into the cook pot with some frequency.
This portrait of a young girl and her poi dog was done in 1818 by a Russian sailor. Within another century the breed would be extinct, in part from imported diseases, and in part from cross breeding with imported western dogs. An attempt was made in the 1990s at the Honolulu Zoo to ‘breed back’ to the original Poi Dog strain but it proved unsuccessful. As can be seen here, the dog was smooth coated, and it was said to be a gentle and affectionate, if not very intelligent. Typical coloration was brown or white with brown markings.
With exposure to the attitudes of the missionaries and other westerners towards the eating of dog meat, the practice slowly died out, and with it the raison d’etre for breeding and raising Poi Dogs. They were gradually displaced by cross breeds and disappeared as a distinct breed in the early 20th century, although reports of a “Phantom Dog” around the Mauna Kea Observatories In the 1960s that raided the garbage dumps and which, by photos taken of it, was thought to closely resemble the original Poi Dog did create enough interest to spawn the failed attempt by the Honolulu Zoo to revive the breed.

The 100th Battalion and the 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment, part II

While the 100th Battalion was deployed in Italy, the men of the 442nd remained in the U.S. to complete training.  Their adopted motto was “Go for Broke” and in later years they have been popularly known in the islands by that designation.


The two forces were reunied in  Civitavecchia north of Rome on 11 June 1944. The 100th was placed under the command of the 442nd on 15 June 1944 and on 14 August 1944, the 100th Battalion was officially assigned to the 442nd as its 1st battalion.  In recognition of the One Puka Puka’s outstanding fighting record, they were allowed to keep the unit designation.   The 100th Battalion’s high casualty rate at Anzio and Monte Cassino earned it the unofficial nickname “Purple Heart Battalion.”

The 442nd, with the 100th Battalion now absorbed into its command went on to fight with great distinction in the Italian campaign and, at the close of that action, were transfered to the French theater.  It was at the Battle of the Bulge that the most famous of the combat actions of the 442nd took place – the rescue of the “Lost Battalion.”  The following is an article written by Burt Masao Takeuchi  in which he interviewed surviving members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and those they rescued as they were sent into an incredibly intense and dangerous mission to rescue another U.S. Army regiment that was trapped by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.

Bravery Comes in Many Colors
In late October 1944, a battalion (141st Infantry Regiment) from the 36th Texas Division was surrounded by the German army. Battles were fought in the densely wooded Vosges mountains located in Northern France near the German border. The Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team (about 3,000 men) was ordered to rescue the Lost Battalion by General Clayton Dahlquist (commander of the 36th Division). The German army had orders from Adolf Hitler to defend the Vosges at all costs. The rescue mission would be one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the US Army.
1st Lt. Robert Foote led an infantry platoon in K Company 442nd. Generally all officers attached to the 442nd were White but the NCO’s were all Nisei’s (second generation Japanese American). “I always felt safe as long as I had one live Nisei soldier left in my company. They would take care of me” said Foote. He “was taken out of action early” in the battle when his platoon attempted to race across some railroad tracks outside the town of Bruyeres. Foote was “blown into the air by a German mortar shell” that literally “landed in his hip pocket.” Foote was severely wounded and had to be evacuated to a hospital. “Into the valley of death…..” commented Foote.

Lt. Marty Higgins, a former “horse soldier” (cavalry), was in command of the Lost Battalion. Higgins formed a strong defensive position on a hill and dug in. Some 50 volunteers attempted to fight their way back to the American lines. They were ambushed and only 5 men returned. Higgins initially wanted to fight his way out of the trap but ruled against it because they didn’t want to leave their wounded behind. Although surrounded, morale was high. Meanwhile food, medicine, ammunition and time was running out.

Lt. Susumu Ito was a forward observer with the 442nd’s field artillery battalion (522nd FAB). Ito’s duties were to direct artillery fire from the batteries of 105 mm howitzers to support the 442nd infantry assaults up the rolling hills. Prior to the battle, Ito received a battlefield commission to Lieutenant. It was rare for Nisei to be promoted to officer status during WW2 for his role in the Italian Campaign.

Sgt. Wally Nunotani had volunteered for the 442nd from Hawaii. Sgt. Nunotani was a section chief in the Cannon Company. The small company was very close to the fighting. Sometimes”we didn’t want to shoot. We could hit our own guys.” Nunotani saw an Me109 German fighter plane “hedge hopping over the lines”. During the cold rainy nights, the Nisei soldiers slept in foxholes. It was “cold especially for Nisei who came from warm places.” “Water would accumulate in foxholes” so “guys would make roofs [over them].” The roofs would also protect the soldiers from “tree bursts” where artillery shells would hit the trees showering the ground with thousands of splinters and shrapnel. These roofs would “protect us from this type of attack.”
Shig Doi from I Company was heavily involved in the fighting to rescue the Lost Battalion. The Germans had machine gun nests in camouflaged positions so “they had to be pinpointed first. You had to work yourself forward [toward them] then use a hand grenade [to knock them out]. If you fired your weapon, “you can expose yourself” to enemy fire. If you fired too soon, “it’s like saying ‘Here I am.”‘ When fighting in a dense forest, “everybody looks for [spare or extra] Tommy Guns” (Thompson sub machine gun). A “handy, close fighting weapon” with “lots of knockout power” from its heavy 45 caliber slugs.

The fighting was from tree to tree and ridge to ridge. The 442nd fought for yards at a time through dense woods shrouded with fog and rain. On October 30th, 1944 the 442nd broke through the German lines rescuing the Lost Battalion after storming up Banzai Hill. “We took a lot of losses” said Doi. A German sniper shot a Nisei soldier right in front of him. His friend moving near him was struck in the head and seriously wounded. The sniper “could have picked me off at the same place.” Sometimes he wonders “How come I survived,” commented Doi.
The Meaning of ‘Courage Under Fire’
After the attack, Companies K, L, and I were down to less than 20 men standing each, out of 200 at full strength. Only a handful of Nisei’s that were still able to walk made contact with the Lost Battalion. “I did not witness the first contact that was made by our riflemen but I did see several of the 36th Division fellows crawling out of their deep foxholes and with their bearded, bewildered look greet us with delight and relief,” noted Ito. “Saying we were thrilled is an understatement,” commented Higgins.

Shig Doi, 442nd RCT
Robert Foote, 442nd RCT
Marty Higgins, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Division
Susumu Ito, 522nd FAB, 442nd RCT
Wally Nunotani, Cannon Company 442nd RCT
Special Thanks:
George Oiye, 522nd FAB, 442nd RCT
Rudy Tokiwa, 442nd RCT
National Japanese American Historical Society
Japanese American Resource Center
Andy Ono, 442nd RCT Historian
“Honor Bound” video documentary by Wendy Hanamura (KPIX, SF)
“Most Decorated” video documentary by The History Channel
At the end of the battle, General Dahlquist asked the 442nd to pass in review. He asked where are all the men? “Sorry sir… this is all we have left” replied a teary-eyed officer. After days of near constant fighting the 442nd had suffered roughly 1,000 casualties. 200 soldiers were killed in action (or missing) with over 800 seriously wounded. Nunotani was not clear on why the 442nd was sent in to rescue the Lost Battalion. “There were other regiments that could have been used.” Sometimes war is “like being on a football team. You go with the best and hope for the best,” stated Nunotani. For its heroic action in the Vosges, the 442nd received five Presidential Unit Citations.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in US military history.  Roughtly 14,000 men served, earning 9,486 Purple Hearts and the unit was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations  – 5 earned in a single month in the above cited action. Twenty-one of its members were awarded Medals of Honor, 19 in 2000 as upgrades to other awards, in recognition that, due to the prejudices of the time, they had not been properly recognized.   In all, members of the 442nd received 18,143 awards, including:

21 Medals of Honor (the first awarded posthumously to Private First Class Sadao Munemori, Company A, 100th Battalion, for action near Seravezza, Italy, on 5 April 1945; 19 upgraded from other awards in June 2000.

Recipients include:
Barney F. Hajiro
Mikio Hasemoto
Joe Hayashi
Shizuya Hayashi
Daniel K. Inouye
Yeiki Kobashigawa
Robert T. Kuroda
Kaoru Moto
Sadao Munemori
Kiyoshi K. Muranaga
Masato Nakae
Shinyei Nakamine
William K. Nakamura
Joe M. Nishimoto
Allan M. Ohata
James K. Okubo
Yukio Okutsu
Frank H. Ono
Kazuo Otani
George T. Sakato
Ted T. Tanouye

52 Distinguished Service Cross (including 19 Distinguished Service Crosses which were upgraded to Medals of Honor in June 2000)
1 Distinguished Service Medal
560 Silver Stars (plus 28 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award)
22 Legion of Merit Medals
15 Soldier’s Medals
4,000 Bronze Stars (plus 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters for a second award; one Bronze Star was upgraded to a Medal of Honor in June 2000. One Bronze Star was upgraded to a Silver Star in September 2009.)
9,486 Purple Hearts
On 5 October 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and Nisei serving in the Military Intelligence Service.

The few remaining members of the 442nd are revered in Hawaii and there is a traveling exhibit which was shown at my local credit union that spured my interest in the story of these incredible men:


Go For Broke Exhibit showing in Kona
August 18, 2014

Kona residents will have the opportunity to view a famous exhibit titled, “Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts” which is currently making a tour of the State. The exhibit chronicles the history of Japanese American soldiers from the famous 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and lesser known Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who served during World War II. It will be showing at the John Y. Iwane Credit Union Center Training Room of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s Kaloko Facility from August 18 to September 12, 2014. The HCFCU is located at 73-5611 Olowalu St, Kailua-Kona. Visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The exhibit will be closed on Sundays. Admission is free.

Dean Uemura, HCFCU Executive Vice President-Support Services, “The Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is very proud to be hosting the Go For Broke Exhibit and helping to make it available to the people of the Kona Community. Our credit union was formed in part by several returning veterans of World War II and has served the Kona community for many years, so we are pleased to help to bring this important exhibit here for the first time.” An opening ceremony will take place on Monday, August 18, at 10:00 a.m. to open the display for public viewing.

The Go For Broke exhibit was originally created in the early 1980s through the efforts of more than 100 Nisei veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. The exhibit was originally shown at the Presidio Army base in San Francisco and toured throughout the United States for nearly 10 years. It formed the basis for other exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York. Most recently, the Go For Broke exhibit was featured at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

The 100th Battalion and the 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment, part 1

One of the more remarkable stories in one of the less than stellar chapters in our nation’s history is the formation of the all Japanese American infantry battalion, the 442nd during World War II. These remarkable men were largely volunteers, joining from Hawaii, where they had initially almost been cashiered out of the National Guard,  and  from the internment camps  on the mainland where, shamefully, perfectly innocent Americans of Japanese ancestry were held in the months and years following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Americans of Japanese ancestry were barred from the draft following the assault on Pearl Harbor and orders were given to discharge any who were already serving.  The Hawaiian islands were immediate placed under martial law after Pearl Harbor and the commander imposed curfews and blackouts, but fell short of interning the Japanese American population as was done on the mainland.

150,000 out of 400,000 people in 1937 in the Hawaiian territory were of Japanese ancestry, and unlike the mainland,  internment was deemed not practical, in large part for economic reasons. Had the government interned the Japanese Americans and immigrants in Hawai’i, the economy might well have collapsed. The War Department called for the removal of all soldiers of Japanese ancestry from active duty in early 1942,  and General Delos C. Emmons, commander of the U.S. Army in Hawaii discharged all those in the Hawaii Territorial Guard, mainly of ROTC students from the University of Hawaii.  However, he kept the more than 1,300 Japanese American soldiers of the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiment regiments of the Hawaii National Guard. The discharged Hawaii Territorial Guard members then petitioned General Emmons to allow them to aid in the war effort, and when the petition was appoved, they formed a group called the Varsity Victory Volunteers, which undertook a  number of military construction jobs.

Due in part to concerns about the loyalty of Japanese American soldiers in the event of a Japanese invasion of the islands, and in part concerns about the soldiers being mistaken for the enemy,  General Emmons recommended to the War Department that Americans of Japanese ancestry in  the 298th and 299th regiments be organized into a “Hawaiian Provisional Battalion” and sent to the mainland. The War Department agreed and on 5 June 1942, the Hawaiian Provisional Battalion set sail for training, landing in Oakland, California on 10 June 1942 and proceeding to  Camp McCoy, Wisconsin a few days later. The battalion was designated the 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)—the “One Puka Puka”,  puka in Hawaiian meaning hole as a reference to the graphic representation of 1 0 0.  The battalion was ‘orphaned’ in that it was not attached to any existing regiment, thus the designation (Separate).

Training took place in Wisconsin, and later in Shelby, Mississippi where  many of the Nisei (second generation) soldiers were exposed for the first time to widespread prejudice and racial segregation. Meanwhile, a new unit of Japanese American soldiers had settled in at Camp Shelby — the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, activated on February 1, 1943 by President Franklin Roosevelt, and made up of volunteers from Hawaii and the continental U.S.  The One Puka Puka’s impressive training records and high scores on achievement tests together with the loyalty shown by the former Hawaii Territorial Guard members in the Varsity Victory Volunteers, had led the Army to consider recruitment of more Americans of Japanese ancestry, and a call for volunteers was issued, with the goal of recruiting 1,500 men from Hawaii and 3,000 from the continental U.S.  Almost 10,000 volunteers responded from Hawaii, and 1,200 volunteered from the internment camps on the mainland.  Ultimately, about 3,000 were inducted from Hawaii and around 800 from the mainland to make up the new 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment.

In his book “Remembrances,” published on the 50th anniversary of the 100th’s formation, Sakae Takahashi, one of the original Nisei officers, recalled that, “the men of the 100th …were ruggedly conditioned and had become skillful in the use of weapons. Their morale was high, and they were well-disciplined. Camaraderie was strong, and their relationships among themselves and with officers…were well established. In sum, the 100th was ready for combat.”  The unit received its battalion colors featuring a traditional Hawaiian warrior’s helmet to symbolize strength, and an ape leaf to symbolize protection.


100th Infantry Battalion Insignia
100th Infantry Battalion Insignia

The soldiers had requested as their motto “Remember Pearl Harbor,” but  Washington resisted any mention of Pearl Harbor in the motto of the ethnically Japanese unit, suggesting instead, “Be of Good Cheer.” This motto, along with Army command’s notion that the men be given special dog tags identifying them as Nisei soldiers, was opposed by the unit’s Colonel Turner, who constantly fought for the dignity and pride of his men.  They were ultimately allowed to keep their motto as proposed.

While the 442nd continued its training, the 100th Infantry Battalion departed for the war in Europe.  On August 21, 1943, the men boarded the SS James Parker departing from New York City with the Statue of Liberty as their last view of America as they began their 12-day voyage to Oran, Algeria, in North Africa, and from North Africa to the shores of Salerno, Italy.  Within a short time, they would have a new nickname – The Purple Heart Battalion.