Before the military, I lived with my family on the island of Kauai. It was a little over three and a half years, from early 1974 to late 1977.
While I was in the military, I was once stationed at the base at Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu. It was two years minus the six months I spent deployed to the Western Pacific, from late 1982 to late 1984.
My father worked on more than one of the islands but I can only remember Kauai, Maui and Oahu. In 1974, he convinced my mother to bring the entire family from Arizona to Hawaii. His company paid for it.
My father’s company also made a deal with a homeowner to let us live at a house on Kauai with a reduced rent. We had to do all the landscaping.
The older members of the family slowly returned to the mainland. They didn’t like it there and neither did I, but I didn’t have a choice in the matter. Years ago, I wrote an article about the bigotry in Hawaii, only to have a reader call me a bigot over and over. The locals called me and each of my siblings a “haole” (a white person) every where we went and we were often picked on in school.
I finished my 8th grade year at Kapaa High School. My mother, two brothers, one sister and I left the island when I was at the beginning of my 12th grade year. My father remained for a few more years, though living in a different place.
Sometime in early 1980s, my mother and younger sister joined my father again but I don’t remember the years. I know they were on Maui while I was on Oahu for part of the time I was stationed there.
I was transferred to the air station in Yuma, Arizona as my second duty station, my first after reenlistment in the Marine Corps. Only a year passed before I got orders for Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. It’s on the island of Oahu.
I spent several months with HMM-165, which was re-designated as VMM-165 sometime long after I left. We had helicopters, mainly the CH-46 Sea Knights. While I was deployed, a squadron with UH-1 (Huey) helicopters and another with harriers joined us. VMM-165 now has the Ospreys.
After I returned from the deployment and found out I didn’t have enough time remaining to go on another, I was transferred to HMH-463. They didn’t deploy back then with their CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters. They still have the same helicopters today, updated models of course.
I didn’t have any issues with the locals on Oahu. That’s probably because I spent most of my time away from the civilian population.
I liked the weather. The weather was like it is here in the Philippines, but without the heat or the typhoons. I only remember one rainstorm from the first time and a hurricane from the second time. Why they called it a hurricane instead of a typhoon is anyone’s guess.
I found the weather just as pleasing when I was stationed in San Diego, California. As far as I can remember, there weren’t any hot days in San Diego when I was there.
I liked the beaches. Again, the beaches in San Diego were just as pleasing.
I never had an urge to go on vacation in Hawaii and thankfully, neither did my wife or children. My younger son will soon be reenlisting in the Army and he selected Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii as one of his duty station choices.
If the Army sends him there, he shouldn’t have any issues with the locals. He’s a half-Filipino and his wife is a Filipina. They should blend right in.
By: RT Cunningham
January 18, 2017
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