Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Ka Lae, Hawaii

0AF9D219-8C41-4B34-872A-EC13B3AF1244At Ka Lae point on the Big Island of Hawaii, the southernmost point in the United States, sits the Kalalea Heiau. A heiau is a sacred place where ancient Hawaiians often left offerings to the gods in exchange for favors. At Kalalea Heiau,

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Kalalea Heiau, Ka Lae, Hawaii

they were praying for a bountiful catch. The ocean at this point is rough and the cliffs are steep, but the waters teem with ahi and yellowfin tuna. Fishermen would tie their canoes to rocks and to mooring holes carved from the rock. They would then play out the ropes until they were far enough offshore to cast for the fish in the deep channel. The mooring holes are still visible, though fishermen today do not go out in canoes. Instead they tie bags of air to their lines and let the bags take the lines out to the deep.

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Canoe mooring holes, Ka Lae Point

Near the heiau is a wooden structure jutting out over the water from which hardy souls jump into the water. We decided against taking the leap when we visited, but we watched many attempt it. One jumper remarked that, after the experience, he no longer needed a colonoscopy.

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Dive platform at Ka Lae, the southernmost point of the US

From Ka Lae, we traveled to Kona on the Leeward Coast of the island. Our condo in Kona was right on the water. We had no beach at that point, nothing but rocks, but the view was gorgeous. Our first morning we woke to spinner dolphins leaping out of the water close to shore. In the evening we could watch the sunset from out lanai. It was from our lanai that we saw a green flash.

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Kona Hawaii

The green flash occurs just as the sun sets on a clear evening, usually over the ocean. It appears as a green light at the top of the sun’s disk when the sun is almost entirely blow the horizon. The explanation is that the light is refracted through the atmosphere which separates the wavelengths making the green, and sometimes blue wavelengths distinct. We each saw one on separate nights. It’s an amazing phenomenon.

Go For Broke

The 37th annual Hawaii International Film Festival closed on Sunday, November 12 with a showing of Go For Broke, the origin story of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Fittingly, Sunday was the day after Veterans Day. The movie was written and directed by Stacey Hayashi with music by Jake Shimabukuro.

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Jake Shimabukuro

The movie won the Inaugural Hawaii Movie Maker Award. You can learn more about the movie and view the trailer here: https://www.goforbrokemovie.com.

The Gothic Line

The Gothic Line was a German defensive line built across the Apennine Mountains in Northern Italy. It stretched from the Ligurian Sea on the west to the Adriatic on the east. German Field Marshall Albert Kesselring oversaw construction, using the same German company that had built the Gustav Line and thousands of Italians as slave laborers. They drilled into solid rock to build concrete-reinforced pits and trenches. They fortified the line with 2,400 machine guns whose fields of fire overlapped. Beyond the line was the Po Valley and the beyond that the Austrian Alps. This was Hitler’s last line of defense and he ordered his army to hold it al all costs.

Since taking Pisa and the Arno River, the Fifth Army had made no headway against the Gothic Line. General Clark wanted the 442nd returned from France. For that he had to go head-to-head with Eisenhower who wanted the Nisei for the Battle of the Bulge. General Clark prevailed and, in late March, 1945, the 442nd returned to Pisa, Italy. This time the 442nd was attached to the 92nd Infantry Division, a segregated African-American unit, the only African-American combat unit in the European theater. Also at the front were other segregated units from British and French colonies.

On the nights of April 3 and 4, the 100th and 3rd battalions moved through the night, scaling steep mountains with laden backpacks filled with supplies and ammunition.At dawn on April 5, the 3rd was behind the Germans. They launched the attack westward at the same time the 100th attacked eastward, catching the Germans in a pincers movement. They faced heavy machine gun fire, mortars and land mines.

Private Sadao Munemori of the 100th battalion, A-company, attacked alone through enemy fire and single-handedly took out two machine gun nests. When taking cover in a shell crater with two of his comrades, a grenade bounced off his helmet. Without hesitation, he threw his body on the grenade and saved the lives of the others. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his sacrifice. In fact, his was the first awarded to a Japanese -American during World War II.

On the night of April 6, the 100th and 3rd closed on a hill called Cerreto. The 2nd battalion’s F-company had taken a hill called Carchio. Other Nisei companies took seven other hills in the line. In four days, from April 4 to April 8, the 442nd advanced two and a half miles over the saw-toothed Apennine range.

More fighting was to come.

Medal Of Honor

Munemori, Sadao “Spud”
Born: Los Angeles, CA, August 17, 1942
Died: Seravezza, Italy, April 5, 1945
Rank: Private First Class
Unit: 100th Infantry Battalion

Munemori, an auto mechanic, volunteered for the US Army in November 1941, before the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the attack, he was demoted to 4-C status, along with other Japanese-American soldiers, and removed from combat training. He was assigned to menial labor at several Southern bases. Meanwhile, his parents and siblings were incarcerated in Manzanar. In 1943, when Japanese Americans in the camps were permitted to serve, Munemori volunteered for the 442nd. He trained at Fort Shelby and joined the 100th in Italy. He participated in the rescue of the Lost Battalion in France before returning to Italy with the 100th for the battle of the Gothic Line.

Medal Of Honor Citation

Munemori, Sadao. He fought with great gallantry and intrepidity near Seravezza, Italy. When his unit was pinned down by grazing fire from the enemy’s strong mountain defense and command of the squad devolved on him with the wounding of its regular leader, he made frontal, one-man attacks through direct fire and knocked out two machine guns with grenades. Withdrawing under murderous fire and showers of grenades from other enemy emplacements, he had nearly reached a shell crater occupied by two of his men when an unexploded grenade bounced on his helmet and rolled toward his helpless comrades. He arose into the withering fire, dived for the missile and smothered its blast with his body. By his swift, supremely heroic action Pfc. Munemori saved two of his men at the cost of his own life and did much to clear the path for his company’s victorious advance.

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