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The Marines, a Lion and Waimea: Remembering Camp Tarawa

June 7, 2013
Children from Waimea on Hawaii island visit "Roscoe the Lion" during World War II. (Photo Courtesy the Marine Corps League Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255)

Children from Waimea on Hawaii island visit “Roscoe the Lion” during World War II. Roscoe was the mascot for the 28th Marines-5th Marine Division during their time on Hawaii Island. (Photo Courtesy the Marine Corps League Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255)

Seventy years ago this year Hawaii Island was transformed when it was chosen to be the home of “Camp Tarawa.” From 1943-1945, over 50,000 U.S. Marines lived and trained in and around Waimea and the Kohala Coast. These Marines went on to take part in some of the most important battles of World War II.

In honor of this anniversary, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site will be offering a special program featuring members of the Marine Corps League, Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255. This presentation will focus on the significance of Camp Tarawa and the citizens of Waimea to the Allied victory in the Pacific during World War II. Topics will include everything from how the Marines prepared for the Battle of Iwo Jima, their daily interactions with the Hawaii Island community, to how an African lion named “Roscoe” ended up in Hawaii.

Roscoe the Lion entertains local children. (Photo Courtesy Marine Corps League Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255)

Roscoe the Lion entertains local children. (Photo Courtesy Marine Corps League Camp Tarawa Detachment #1255)

Members of the community with personal stories of the time are encouraged to attend this event. Newly acquired photos of Camp Tarawa and Waimea from the time period will also be on display and it is hoped that community members will be able to help identify the individuals and events in the photos.

The public is invited to this free event, which will be held at the park Visitor Center from 10:30 am-12:00 pm on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Marine Corps League member Kathy Painton, who will be one of the program's presenters, has a very personal connection with this history. Her father was killed during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Today, Kathy shares her father's story and represents the families of those U.S. Marines who did not return from battle during World War II.

Marine Corps League member Kathy Painton, who will be one of the program’s presenters, has a very personal connection with this history. Her father was killed during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Today, Kathy shares her father’s story and represents the families of those U.S. Marines who did not return from battle during World War II.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Clarence Robinson permalink
    September 10, 2013 10:36 am

    Thank you Waimea for being tghe wonderful host,friends and supporters. I was in Dog Company,2nd Batt,27th Marines,5th Div.

    • dmmacilroy permalink
      February 12, 2014 5:16 am

      Dear Mr. Robinson,

      Thank you for your service. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for you and the thousands of other young men who served so bravely. I live just a third of a mile below the site of Bordelon field and many is the day I have walked the land and felt the spirit of you there.

      Mahalo nui loa.

      Aloha,

      Douglas MacIlroy

      • Pacific Island Ranger permalink*
        February 12, 2014 5:59 am

        Mahalo for sharing! If you would like more information about Camp Tarawa, you can visit our friends at the Camp Tarawa Foundation at http://www.camptarawamcl.com/about.html. Aloha!

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