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    • Ceremony Held in Rememberance of Hui Panalaau

      In the 1930's many smaller Pacific islands were uninhabited. The U.S. Interior Department started a colonization project to take claim of those islands and recruited 130 Hawaii men to do the job.

      This Memorial Day Weekend, they were honored at the National Cemetery of the Pacific.

      It was 80 years when the Hui Panalaau colonists enabled the United States to to establish territorial jurisdiction over Howland, Baker and Jarvis Islands.  This Memorial Day Weekend, the Senate passed resolution acknowledging their bravery.

      "They were sent out to the middle of the pacific to live alone to survive and to serve their country," says Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii (D).

      Throughout the seven years during the colonization of the islands the young men risked their lives far from the safety and security of their homes.  George Kahanu is one of three colonists still alive.   

      "You're out there all by yourself and you think, is it worth while but after seeing this today, I say it's been worth while," says George Kahanu, Hui Panalaau Member.

      Some of the colonists were straight out of high school.  Many of them had no idea what life would be like but Paul Gordon Phillips was more prepared than others.

      "I had an older brother that had been down there twice before so I got all the first hand information from him he was also on Jarvis." says Paul Phillips,  Hui Panalaau Member.

      As World war II intensified things became increasingly dangerous for the colonists.  The island of Jarvis was shelled by a Japanese submarine.  2  colonists were killed following a Japanese air attack on Howland island.

      "That was scary.  There's no place to hide on the island it's a mile long 3/4 of a mile wide and it's flat," says Phillips.

      Daily duties included taking weather reports but when the job was done,they did what any young man would do in the middle of the pacific.

      "These were local boys that got to live 3-4 months on an island with no adult supervision surrounded by fish and lobsters and squid so I think it was a real adventure for a lot of them," says Noelle Kahanu, Granddaughter.

      "I had a jaw from a shark we caught 13 feet nine inches long right in the channel right in front of the camp," says Phillips

      At times however, being on a barren island can take it toll.  The colonists had very little contact from the outside.
      "That was extremely difficult for us because we had no idea what the fate of our families here or condition of the island," says Phillips.

      This Memorial Day Weekend was the first time they were recognized with a 21 gun salute and the playing of Taps for the boys who never made it home.  

      The colonization project ended abruptly when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Phillips was the final colonist to leave the islands in February of 1942.

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