Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the volcano blows.

Hawai’i is burning. Fissures are opening on the East slope of Kilauea destroying homes and threatening the lives of more than a thousand residents. The danger comes not only from lava, but also from toxic gases emitted by the volcano. Now comes possibility of a new danger at the summit. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the lava lake in Halemaumau crater in Kilauea Caldera is draining due to the eruption at the lower levels. the concern is that the lake will drain down below the water table, which could cause a steam explosion that could send boulders rocks and ash into the air. Authorities have closed Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as a precaution. An explosion in the caldera could do serious damage to Volcano House, which sits on the edge of the caldera.


Lava in Halemaumau Crater

Here are two images of Halemaumau Crater in Kilauea Caldera taken last year from the observation deck of Volcano House. The lava fountain you see in the night photo is estimated to be about sixty feet high.

Even in daylight, the eruption is impressive, although the lava itself is hard to see. Only smoke is visible in daylight. that smoke contains the toxic gases that are threatening the health of people in the subdivisions on the East slope.


Kilauea Caldera

When I worked for Kamehameha Schools in the 1980’s, we had a demonstration program at Pahoa Elementary School in the Puna District of the Big Island.  The Puna district is where the current fissures are opening. According to reports, fifteen fissures have now opened. Although the school is not directly impacted by the eruption, many families with children at the school live in the endangered areas. One teacher has reportedly lost her home to the lava. We can only hope for the best for all of them and keep them in our thoughts.


Go For Broke

One of the units making up the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, was the 522 Artillery Brigade. Once the 442nd arrived in France, the 522nd became a roving brigade, attached to whichever units needed them the most. In March, 1945, the 522nd remained in France for the campaign in the Lorraine region and the final drive into Southern Germany while the rest of the 442nd returned to Italy for the Gothic Line Campaign.

From March 12 -21, the 522nd participated in the attack on the Siegfried Line. When it fell, they crosded the Rhine and participated in the fall of Mannheim. In 60 days, the 522nd traveled 1,100 miles through 40 towns chasing the retreating Germans.

On April 29, some scouts from the 522nd came across some barracks surrounded by barbed wire in the Bavarian town of Lager Lechfield. What happened next wlll never be forgotten. This is how Technician Fourth Grade Ichiro Imamura described it.

“I watched as one of the scouts used his carbine to shoot off the chain that held the prison gates shut. . . They weren’t dead, as he had first thought. When the gates swung open, we got our first good look at the prisoners. Many of them were Jews. They were wearing striped prison suits and round caps. It was cold and the snow was two feet deep in some places. There were no German guards. The prisoners struggled to their feet. . . They shuffled weakly out of the compound. They were like skeletons – all skin and bones. . .”

The Nisei liberated Kaufering IV Hurlach, a Dachau satellite camp that housed 3,000 prisoners.  Most of the prisoners had gone. In the last days of April, Hitler had ordered the concentration camp guards to march the prisoners to the interior in a terrible death march.

On May 2, Nisei from the 522nd came across a field with several hundred lumps in the snow. The lumps were people—Jewish prisoners—many had been shot. Some had died of exposure, but some were alive, although barely. They found other prisoners wandering the countryside. For the next four days, the Nisei were engaged in getting the people to shelter and providing them with warmth.

In what is, perhaps, the greatest irony of the war, many of these Nisei who liberated the concentration camp, had, themselves, left concentration camps in the United States to fight against oppression and totalitarianism. They still had family and friends behind barbed wire in Manzanar, Poston, Gila River, Jerome, Rohwer,  Heart Mountain, Minidoka, Granada, Topaz and Tule Lake. It’s to their credit that the men of the 442nd were willing to risk so much to preserve freedom. It’s to our country’s lasting shame that we would incarcerate people solely because of their heritage. We must be vigilant that it never happens again.


The Tiki Bar Is Open.

47F5129B-F1F4-4D68-9827-E47071728EE0I don’t know what to call this drink. It’s based on gin and elderflower liquor. It has several different spices to give it an exotic flavor.

Firsst muddle .5 oz simple syrup, .5 oz lemon juice, a sprig of Thai basil, and a slice of  ginger root. Add 1.5 oz gin and 1 oz elderflower liquor. Shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice. Top with a splash of tonic. It’s sort of sweet and sour with Asian overtones.


One thought on “Aloha Friday, No Work Till Monday—May 11, 2018

  1. Once again, I found your post very touching, Mark. The part about the volcano is interesting and would be terrifying if I lived on the big island. The part that caused tears in my eyes is that of the rescue of prisoners by those who should never have been segregated. What happened to Japanese citizens in this country during WWII is shameful. Also shameful is the fact that Jewish refugees were turned away from our country during this time. I hope the new movie about the rescue of a concentration camp is widely viewed so that there is more awareness of what happened in those camps is publicized to those who don’t believe they happened. Well, I will get off my soap box and let your get on with your excellent writing.

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