The House Without A Key
The Halekulani is a world-class hotel on Waikiki Beach near the Fort DeRussey end of Waikiki. It is located on the former site of a beach house at which novelist Earl Derr Biggers stayed and became the setting for the first Charlie Chan mystery, The House Without A Key. To this day, you can find an indoor/outdoor restaurant named The House Without A Key at the Halekulani. Locals know that the lanai of The House Without A Key is where you can experience once of the best sunset views on Oahu. Adding to the view is the beachside stage where patrons are entertained every evening by a trio of Hawaiian musicians and a very talented dancer.
For years, a venerable, centuries-old kiawe tree dominated the stage. Sadly, the tree fell over early this year. The hotel is trying to save it. A visit to Oahu will not be complete without sunset at The House Without A Key.
Mary Fran and I met with six authors and readers on Wednesday evening before Left Coast Crime at The House Without A Key for drinks, music, sunset, and conversations about mysteries.
The group included Fran Vella, Lila Olson, Laurie Sheehan, Chris Dreith, Stella Sexsmith, Sara Bowling. We had a great time. For my money, having drinks with mystery lovers at the birthplace of Charlie Chan was the high light of Left Coast Crime. Which leads to:
Charlie Chan aphorism for the week.
In presence of pretty woman, what man keeps silent?
Go For Broke
Last week I told you a little about the formation of the 100th Infantry Battalion formed of Nisei soldiers from Hawaii, which later merged with mainland Nisei who volunteered from the War Relocation Camps to form the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. After formation, the 100th was sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for training. The Unit Insignia shows a taro leaf, representing Hawaii, and Mississippi River boat representing Wisconsin. The. Motto, “Go For Broke” is a gambler’s term meaning to risk everything. The 100th had another motto: “Remember Pearl Harbor,” though they are most often associated with “Go For Broke.”
Africa and Italy:
Following Camp McCoy, the 100th trained at Fort Shelby, Mississippi. From there, they were sent to the Mediterranean in August, 1943, arriving in Oran, North Africa on September 2, 1943. There they were attached to the 34th Infantry Division. The 34th, with the 100th, sailed to Italy, southeast of Naples, on September 23, 1943.
The unit was eager to fight to prove their honor to their families and loyalty to America. Allied commanders and war correspondents hadn’t expected such eagerness and were puzzled by it. They entered combat on September 29, 1943 at Salerno. The unit advanced 15 miles in 24 hours, fighting day and night, against strong enemy resistance, over difficult terrain and suffering many casualties. They took Benevento, an important rail and road center. They crossed the Volturno River three times. Always fighting treacherous currents, slippery rocks and facing heavy fire from German machine gunners on the high ground. They fought through artillery and rocket attacks and strafing from Luftwaffe. It was during this battle that the Nisei introduced the banzai charge. A sergeant mistakenly heard that one of their officers was down. He ordered the men to fix their bayonets. The men yelled “banzai” and swarmed the German positions.
Next week: Monte Cassino
Last week, I introduced you to Robert Kuroda, a member of the 442nd and a Medal of Honor recipient. This week, meet:
Mikio Hasemoto, born in Honolulu and enlisted in the US Army in June 1941. When the 100th was organized, he volunteered to be a part of it. He was killed in Italy repelling an enemy attack and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company B, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Place and date: Cerasuolo, Italy, November 29, 1943
Entered service at: Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
Born: July 13, 1916, Honolulu, Hawaii
Private Mikio Hasemoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, in the vicinity of Cerasuolo, Italy. A force of approximately 40 enemy soldiers, armed with machine guns, machine pistols, rifles, and grenades, attacked the left flank of his platoon. Two enemy soldiers with machine guns advanced forward, firing their weapons. Private Hasemoto, an automatic rifleman, challenged these two machine gunners. After firing four magazines at the approaching enemy, his weapon was shot and damaged. Unhesitatingly, he ran 10 yards to the rear, secured another automatic rifle and continued to fire until his weapon jammed. At this point, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader had killed approximately 20 enemy soldiers. Again, Private Hasemoto ran through a barrage of enemy machine gun fire to pick up an M-1 rifle. Continuing their fire, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader killed 10 more enemy soldiers. With only three enemy soldiers left, he and his squad leader charged courageously forward, killing one, wounding one, and capturing another. The following day, Private Hasemoto continued to repel enemy attacks until he was killed by enemy fire. Private Hasemoto’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.