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Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay

Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay

Hawaii Marine Kaneohe Bay
 
Mokapu Peninsula

Prior to the first European contact in 1778, Mokapu Peninsula was divided into two ahupua’a (basic land unit) — Kaneohe and He’eia — which were, in turn, divided into five ‘ilis.

Archaeological evidence confirms human presence on Mokapu Peninsula since the 11th to 13th Century A.D., when inhabitants would have enjoyed an area rich in natural resources, including sea birds, seaweed, shellfish and sea turtles. The archaeological record reflects only intermittent and temporary ancient use of Mokapu Peninsula.

By the 1400s, the Polynesian settlers had established permanent homes throughout the islands, including on Mokapu. They cleared native vegetation to construct homes and plant crops, and built small ko‘a (fishing shrines) along the western coastline of Mokapu Peninsula, larger heiau (temples) on promontories, and stone platforms and enclosed areas for pole-and-thatch houses. The early Hawaiians altered many shallow marine and marsh areas to create walled fishponds (loko Ia) where they could raise fish to be harvested.

The U.S. military history of the base dates back to 1918 when, on the eastern shore of the peninsula, the area was commissioned as Kuwa‘ahoe Military Reservation and later renamed Fort Hase. The U.S. Navy started development of the western side of the peninsula in 1938 as Naval Air Station (NAS) Kaneohe.

During the attack, a Kaneohe-based Sailor named John Finn shot down one of the first Japanese planes and was later cited for his heroic actions. He became one of the first Medal of Honor recipients during World War II.

After the war, Fort Hase was rapidly emptied and NAS Kaneohe activities were reduced to limited air operations, a small security detachment and a federal communications center. Activities at NAS Kaneohe, however, continued with limited air operations and a small security detachment and a federal communications center remained. In May 1949, the Navy decommissioned and closed NAS Kaneohe Bay. All property (except buildings) was transferred to NAS Barbers Point. The Navy put Mokapu Peninsula land up for lease, but no interested parties came forward. By June 1950, only a small security detail remained.

In 1951, the station was proposed as an ideal site for combined air-ground team, so the Marines negotiated for control of the former naval air station. On Jan. 15, 1952, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay was commissioned. The air station played an integral part in support of the American military’s efforts throughout the Pacific region between 1965 and the early 1990s.

In April 1994, the Marine Corps consolidated all of its installations and facilities in Hawaii under a single command — Marine Corps Base Hawaii, headquartered on the base in Kaneohe Bay. In October of that year, the Marine Corps deactivated the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and redesignated several of its units as part of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Hawaii. These units became tenants aboard MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay; their parent command, III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), remains headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

Today, MCB Hawaii continues to serve as a fully functional operational and training base for U.S. Marine Corps forces. The commander’s vision is for MCB Hawaii to be the installation of choice for the warfighter: to continue to meet and exceed the expectations of those who use its facilities and services.

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