Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

The Royal Hawaiian Band

When people think of Hawaii, they think of sun, sand, surf, palm trees and ocean breezes. What they discover when they get there is music. Music is the soul of Hawaiian culture and the Royal Hawaiian Band is its heart. Founded in 1836 by Kamehameha III, the band has a 180 year history of performing for the people of Hawaii and the world.

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Royal Hawaiian Band March 19, 2017

The band’s first leader was Heinrich Berger who arranged many local songs and rhythms to the orchestra and who also wrote many original pieces that are still known and performed by Hawaiians. His best know contribution is Hawaii Pono’I, which became the state anthem. Under his direction, the band performed at state functions, funerals, celebrations, and parades. For his contributions, Berger is know as the Father of Hawaiian Music.

The Royal Hawaiian Band today is an agency of the City and County of Honolulu and is the only full-time municipal band in the United States. The band performs in over 300 concerts and parades each year at city, state, military and private functions. It entertains the public at free concerts every Friday at Iolani Palace at noon, and every Sunday afternoon at 2:00 at the bandstand in Kapiolani Park.

All performances include songs from the days of the Hawaiian monarchy written by Queen Liliuokalani, King Kalakaua, Princess Likelike, and Prince Leleiohoku. Their repertoire also includes Hawaiian songs from later eras, such as the “Hapa Haole” music (Hawaiian music with English Lyrics), Broadway musical numbers, and modern orchestral numbers. Every concert concludes with a rendition of Queen Liliuokalani’s Aloha Oe.

Visitor’s to Hawaii should not miss the Royal Hawaiian Band.

Left Coast Crime, Honolulu Havoc 2017

Panel: Sinister Criminals: Dark (noir) and Devastating. Saturday, March 18.
I have to give a lot of kudos to moderator Ken Wishnia for the hard work he put into this panel. He read our books and proposed topics for discussion well in advance and kept all of us on topic. He also engaged the audience in the conversation. I was pleased and humbled to share the dais with such mystery greats as Matt Coyle, Laurie King, and Terry Shames.

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Left Coast Crime Panel, March 18, 2017

The topic was villains. We generally agreed that we didn’t like serial-killers who are completely evil, obsessed, and have no redeeming characteristics. We also agreed that there should be a thin line between the hero and the villain, as thin as possible. There is a certain symbiosis, you might say, between the hero and the villain. They have much in common, the way the guard dog and the wolf share a lot in common. A strong villain makes a strong hero, who will be only as strong as her opponent. Some panelists expressed the belief that a compelling villain is one who doesn’t start out as a villain, but is backed into a corner and has no other way out.

I was delighted to have a seat at the table hosted by Ken Wishnia at the banquet that evening. Ken writes the marvelous Filomena Buscarsela books as well as such books as Jewish Noir, Long Island Noir, and others. He gave me a signed copy of The Red House, a Filomena book.

Go For Broke

Anzio. By March, 1944, the 100th Infantry Battalion had experienced six months of hard fighting from their landing in Salerno with the 34th, through the German defenses of the Volturno River to Cassino and the Gustav Line. Having been sent into combat at Monte Cassino twice in February, they were now less than half of their original strength. Although the fight for Monte Cassino still raged, the 34th Division, including the 100th were pulled out and sent to Anzio for the push to Rome. The ranks of the 100th were filled with Nisei replacements from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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100th on Anzio Beachhead

For two months, the Allies struggled to maintain their hold on the 10 square miles of beachfront while the Germans in the hills surrounding the beachhead tried to blast them back into the sea with artillery, mortars, machine guns and bombs. By May of 1944, the Allies planned to push on to Rome, but lacked intelligence of German divisions in their path.

The task of capturing German prisoners to interrogate fell to a captain of the 100th, Young Oak Kim, of Korean ancestry. Kim studied the German movements and, on the night of May 16, he led four Nisei volunteers along a drainage ditch, past German positions. They waited in the ditch until dawn and then Kim and Private First Class Irving Akahoshi set out leaving three riflemen for cover. Kim and Akahoshi crawled through briar and 250 yards through a wheat field on their stomachs until they surprised two German soldiers in a slit trench. They disarmed the soldiers and led them back, again on their stomachs, past German positions, to their unit on the beach. The information provided by the prisoners was sufficient and, at the end of May, the Allies broke out of Anzio and pushed to Rome.

At Lanuvio, the Allies encountered a German roadblock of overlapping machine gun fire. Two battalions were sent to clear them but failed. On June 2, a battalion of Nisei were ordered to clear them. In 36 hours they knocked out a dozen machine guns and broke through the German defenses. They moved so fast that they came under artillery fire from Allied guns who had not expected them to make such progress. Several Nisei were killed or wounded by Allied artillery before they could get word to stop firing.

Lanuvio was the last German stronghold before Rome, which was twelve miles away. The 100th, having lost 900, killed or wounded, of the original 1,400 hoped to be able to enter Rome as liberators. Instead, on June 4th, they had to wait by the rode while the Fifth Army marched in. Then they were shipped to Cittavecchia, northwest of Rome, where they were united with the 442nd.

Medal of Honor

Yeiki Kobashigawa was born at Hilo, Hawaii in 1917, the son of immigrants who were born in Okinawa, Japan. He joined the US Army in November, 1941, one month before Pearl Harbor. He volunteered for the 100th Infantry Battalion. He died in 2005 at Waianae, Hawaii and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Citation
Kobashigawa, Yeiki
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Unit: Company F, 100th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hilo, Hawaii, September 28. 1917
Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 2 June 1944, in the vicinity of Lanuvio, Italy. During an attack, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa’s platoon encountered strong enemy resistance from a series of machine guns providing supporting fire. Observing a machine gun nest 50 yards from his position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa crawled forward with one of his men, threw a grenade and then charged the enemy with his submachine gun while a fellow soldier provided covering fire. He killed one enemy soldier and captured two prisoners. Meanwhile, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa and his comrade were fired upon by another machine gun 50 yards ahead. Directing a squad to advance to his first position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa again moved forward with a fellow soldier to subdue the second machine gun nest. After throwing grenades into the position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa provided close supporting fire while a fellow soldier charged, capturing four prisoners. On the alert for other machine gun nests, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa discovered four more, and skillfully led a squad in neutralizing two of them. Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa’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.

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