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Hawaii_2018_Summer_Fall_CAmp HM Smith History
Camp H.M. Smith

The 220-acre site of Camp H.M. Smith, originally a sugar cane field, was purchased in March 1941 for $912,000 for a naval hospital. Work began in July, and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, the 1,650-bed facility was rushed to completion. The hospital was commissioned Nov. 11, 1942, and continued to expand.

Throughout World War II, the Aiea Heights Naval Hospital served thousands of wounded sailors and Marines. It reached its peak following the battle for Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, when 5,676 patients received medical care at once. On June 1, 1949, the hospital was deactivated when Army and Navy medical centers were consolidated at Tripler Army Medical Center.

In 1950, the Territory of Hawaii began negotiations to obtain the former naval hospital, and in 1955, the Marine Corps selected the site that now serves as home for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. On June 8, 1955, the camp was named in honor of Gen. Holland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, U.S. Marine Corps, of World War II fame, the first commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, and “father of modern amphibious warfare.” A Marine’s Marine, the general’s forthright approach — “We’re not accustomed to occupying defensive positions. It’s destructive to morale” — lives on in today’s corps.

The camp was dedicated Jan. 31, 1956.

In October 1957, Camp Smith also became the headquarters for USCINCPAC. All U.S. military units located in Hawaii, and others within the Pacific theater, fall under the command of what is now the U.S. Pacific Command, which remains headquartered — along with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific — at Camp H.M. Smith.

 

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