Located at the western end of Waikiki adjacent to the Hale Koa Hotel, Fort DeRussy is a well-kept secret. While there is nolodging there, it is the site of a wonderful museum that chronicles the Army’s history in Hawai’i, with particular emphasis on the role of the Army’s coastal artillery.
The museum is now on the site previously occupied by “Battery Randolph,” two 14″ “disappearing guns” the Army installed in the early 1900s to defend Honolulu from seaward attack. The museum is very interesting and very well done and will appeal greatly to anyone interested in military and/or Hawaiian history.
I must share one thing with the viewer: One of the exhibits in the museum deals with the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the unit comprised largely of soldiers of Japanese descent that fought so bravely and well in the Italian campaign of WWII (and went on to become the most decorated Army unit of the war, with 21 Medals of Honor.) One of the exhibits showed how one of the regiment’s unofficial slogans was “Don’t bring disgrace on the family…mo’ betta’ to come home in a coffin.” How could we have ever lost, with soldiers like that?
This brought tears to my ears and I “mist-up” every time I think of it. Think about it…soldiers whose families (and possibly themselves) had been rounded up and herded into camps in the outback of California for no crime other than just being of Japanese descent, turned out to be the most highly decorated unit we fielded during the entire war. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?