Memorial Wall (1952)

By Lynne Gartley ’74 Meyer and Joyce Salmon

One of Punahou’s most emotionally evocative objects, the Memorial Wall features four bronze plaques honoring the sons of Punahou who sacrificed their lives in four wars: World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. The names include 69 Punahou alumni – plus one faculty member – who span the classes of 1902 to 1965.

Located next to the school’s flagpole, the Memorial Wall is part of Punahou’s former “Memorial Center.” Following one of Punahou’s most ambitious fundraising efforts at the time, the Center was dedicated in 1952 and spanned the area of campus between Dole Cafeteria and today’s Physical Education and Athletics Complex. Only some of its original elements remain.

These men whose names are listed on the plaques were privates and lieutenants, captains and generals. They succumbed to the 1918 influenza pandemic. They marched from Bataan and died at Cabanatuan. They flew planes – one of which was the last to be shot down over Vietnam. They fought and died with valor and earned scores of medals, including, for two men, the nation’s highest military award: the Medal of Honor.

The next time you pass the Memorial Wall, honor and remember them: these names, these men, these sons of Punahou.

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It was not until World War I that Punahou School had alumni who died in service to their country. With eight names to honor – a ninth would be added later – a crowd gathered before Rice Hall to observe the School’s first military memorial service on the afternoon of March 25, 1919.

Although WWI would produce the first Punahou war casualties, 10 of Punahou’s sons answered the call to arms decades earlier during the Civil War. These enlistees included Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1859) who gallantly led the 8th U.S. Colored Troops through the Siege of Petersburg. He would later gain notoriety for founding what is now known as Hampton University, one of the first institutions for educating blacks and Native Americans following the war.

As with these Civil War volunteers, Punahou’s sons were motivated by the desire to serve. Given the School’s missionary roots, the notion of self-sacrifice was a part of their ethos. Governor Wallace Ryder Farrington praised this attribute during dedication ceremonies for the School’s first memorial plaque on May 29, 1926:

“With the same spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial which exemplified itself in the efforts of such men as Washington and Lincoln, and which is indelibly written into the colors of the flag that floats above us today, these boys gave their lives that the nation might carry on. Self-denial is the key and the only key to the door of success. We have right here beside us on this campus a tablet erected to the memory of Rev. Hiram Bingham, and we have this land which our forefathers obtained for us. Self-denial was the mainspring of their actions. The lives of these boys in whose honor we unveil this tablet today is a perpetual monument to this national ideal of self-denial and self-sacrifice. What they have done is a challenge to us to do our duty in carrying out every activity.”

The speech was delivered from the base of the memorial flagpole upon which the plaque was installed. A gift of Lewers & Cooke Ltd., the 115-foot pole came to Rice Field in 1924 from the Pacific Northwest. It was anchored in a foundation designed by Guy Rothwell (1910) and placed in front of Alexander Hall, where Cooke Library stands today.

The students of the James B. Castle Manual Training Department produced the memorial plaque. Because its etched letters and copper demanded yearly cleaning and maintenance, the plaque was replaced in 1932, when the department obtained a metal furnace that allowed the use of bronze and sand casting to raise the letters. Robert Rath ’32 and Frank Hustace ’32 managed the project.

Over the years, Memorial Day ceremonies became a regular exercise. The 1941 service described in Ka Punahou was typical for the period:

“Memorial Day exercises were held around the flagpole last Thursday, for those Punahou students who gave their lives in the first World War. Company E, the best all-around company for 1941, was present in uniform as a guard of honor. The band opened the exercises by playing America. Following this, Mr. Shepard [Punahou’s president from 1929 – 1944] read the names of the dead and gave a brief note on their accomplishments. As soon as he had finished, the Reverend Harry Jones gave a prayer, and flowers were placed about the flagpole by representatives from the Junior and Senior Academy, and the Elementary School.”

World War II

By the following Memorial Day, Punahou would see its alumni fighting in a new world war – by its end, 44 of them would be counted among the dead.

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In what became a regular practice, parents of fallen alumni would receive letters of sympathy from the School. One of the earliest of these went to the parents of David Marston Boynton ’41:

August 1, 1941

My dear Mr. and Mrs. Boynton,

Personally and on behalf of Punahou School I should like to convey to you something of the sorrow with which we learned about the loss of David. He was a real American boy, fun-loving, daring, and mischievous, but honest, self-reliant, intelligent, and lovable. His happy disposition, his keen personal slant on things, and his observations, often made with his tongue in his check (sic), were most refreshing. Our happy memories of David will make life deeper and richer for us who knew him well.

We, perhaps, can share only a small part of the loss you must feel. However, David has given with pride that greatest of all gifts and Punahou humbly acknowledges the honor he has conferred upon us.

Sincerely,
J.S. Slade

[Teacher, Dean and Principal 1920 – 1949]

Transferred from their campus to the Teachers College at the University of Hawai‘i for the duration of the war, Punahou students observed Memorial Day at the Castle Memorial School flagpole. But this was just one of many ways that they demonstrated their support for the ongoing war.

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“Punahou Service” was the name of one of the numerous groups that formed to carry out war work. Activities included crafting “pastime kits” for soldiers and printing Salvo games in the print shop. During night-blooming cereus season, thousands of buds were delivered to hospitals before the nightly blackout. Boys joined ambulance units or served as fire wardens. Most notably, almost everyone joined the Food Production Corps, working in the pineapple fields to keep Hawai‘i’s agricultural production going while the adult male population was off fighting. Those with medical excuses, the so-called “4F’s,” labored in the surgical dressing station at Sears or at hospitals.

Significant financial support was also made to the war. At first, this came in the form of individual donations and faculty payroll deductions. These efforts would eventually coalesce into massive fundraising efforts that sold $2 million in war bonds and generated $5 million in credits from businesses that made their investments in the School’s name. By the war’s end, Punahou would contribute over a fourth of the total sales made by schools in the Territory of Hawai‘i. Fred H. Kanne, Chairman of the Hawaii War Finance Committee, remarked that, “Punahou sales have been outstanding and I know of no school throughout the country which compares with its record.”

Responding to incentives offered through the Treasury Department’s “Buy-a-Plane” campaign – part of the “Schools at War” program – Punahou students earned naming rights to military aircraft. While rules forbade the use of names of persons or places, 1943 bond sales allowed the junior class to label a pursuit plane “Red Head” in honor of Robert Twitchell ’41. In 1944 the elementary children named an airplane “Peter” for Lieutenant Montague Waterhouse while the eighth- and ninth-graders named theirs “Red Jack” for Major Jack Johnson. The fundraising was so outstanding that the School was issued a special permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to return to the Punahou campus on April 19, 1944 to dedicate the planes.

At the first Academy senior assembly of the 1944 school year, two service flags were unveiled. The first held 520 blue stars representing alumni serving in the armed forces; the second held 19 gold stars for the School’s dead. Jolita Coughlin ’45 read an original poem in tribute to the gold-star sons while taps played softly in the background. The flags were later hung at the library entrance to the UH Teachers College.

“In Memoriam” by Jolita Coughlin ’45

Come from the flame-lit glory of the clouds,
Sons of Punahou, tall, eagle sons.
You who have gone ahead, return today
To this, your school. We have not forgotten
How once you laughed as we now laugh,
How you loved the brotherhood of sportsmanship.
Do you remember teasing laughter in a girl’s blue eyes,

The lei given with a kiss?
Remember, too, the sunlit beauty of our valleys,
The song of wind, the sea who knew you as her children.
Remember these? Yes, we have kept them safe.
Come down the aisle now in spirit as you did then,
Step down from the shadows, each as your name is called.
Stand here before us to receive our humble prayer,
The tribute of your school – our deepest gratitude.
Then let the shadows fall, and softly let the bugle fade away,
God be with you. Sleep well, Sons of Punahou.
For you are very tired, and you have earned your rest.

Grieving parents responded to news of this and successive ceremonies, at which more gold stars were added for the newly fallen:

… I am sure that the spirit and ideals of Punahou gave strength to those fine lads. The assemblies with their fine speakers, the prayers in unison, the mass singing of hymns and patriotic songs always live in their hearts long after lessons are forgotten.

Dear Richard’s last letter told of how glad he was to have the privilege of fighting for home and all it stood for, and for his mother. He wanted us to be proud of him. I certainly am.

Richard fought through the entire Tunisian campaign in five battles. He was machine gunned in the shoulder, hospitalized and ten days later went out to his last battle at hill 609.

Sincerely,
Agnes Bickerton
Mother of Richard Frederick Bickerton ’38
Honolulu, Territory of Hawai‘i
February 1, 1945

* * *

… Hugh was killed at Tarawa on November 23, 1943. I also lost another son, L.D. Fricks, Jr. at Guadalcanal three months later who was graduated at Amherst before I went to Honolulu. I now have only Patton left who is flying for the Navy. I shall send your letter to him at Floyd Bennett Airfield, New York. It was quite a blow to me to lose two sons in such a short time, but I am trying to reconcile myself.

I am, very sincerely yours,
L.D. Fricks
Father of Hugh Doran Fricks ’38
Seattle, Washington
January 20, 1945

* * *

… I had no idea that as many as 57 were now in the service and that 24 had already sacrificed their lives. What a curse against humanity!! Let us all hope that few of the others will have to go. In fact none!! … If I remember rightly, Prof. Slade was the first football coach that Jack and his brother Ralph had.

Sincerely yours,

John A. Johnson
Father of John Alexander Johnson Jr. ’31
Honolulu, Territory of Hawai‘i
July 10, 1945

* * *

Mrs. Waterhouse and I were glad to receive the copy of the prayer and the gold star flag commemorating the Punahou boys who have given their lives for their country in this war. We did not realize that there were already twenty-four gold stars in the Punahou flag. This School is honored for having given so many of her sons to our country. …

Sincerely yours,
J. Waterhouse

Father of Montague Bourne Waterhouse ’34
January 3, 1945

* * * * *

… My son, Lt. Arthur Falla Scott, served in the armed forces from 1940 to 1944, when he was killed in action on March 11, 1944, at Anzio. He attended Punahou School from 1927 to 1931, but I do not think his death was reported to the School committee.

I thought the school would be interested in knowing that one more of its students has given his life for his country, and that one more gold star may be added to the flag.

Yours sincerely,

Ada M. Scott
Mother of Arthur Falla Scott ’32
Kilauea, Kauai
September 18, 1944

A War Memorial

With each mounting loss, support grew to create a significant memorial for those from Punahou who served in the war. In Ka Punahou, Student Council President Scott Robertson ’44 said:

“The Student Council is making plans for a plaque bearing the engraved names of all those in the service from Punahou. … The plaque will have to be quite large for all the names; but the bigger it is the prouder we will be.”

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This photo ran in the Punahou Bulletin, September 1982. Caption read as follows: Pictured at the site of the plaques in memory of Punahou War dead are members of the 1981-82 executive committee of the PAA, who oversaw the creation of additional plaques honoring those who died in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. L to R are Larry Langley '68, Leslie Styne Mattice '54, Myrna Kawamoto Sen '53, Betty Augustine Fraser '47, Fred Devereux '62, Simone Botkiin Andrade '62, Nancy Lyman-Peacock and Lowell Kalapa '67.

The Punahou War Memorial would be more than a plaque or statue; it would be a living memorial that would give a “spacious, park-like air to the mauka side of the campus” centered around a lava-rock wall that fronted a tree-shaded patio. Its elements included the new Dole Cafeteria, which replaced Dole Hall; a remodeled Armstrong Hall and boys locker room; Griffiths Girls Gym and locker room; a bookstore and a snack bar.

Of greatest interest were plans for the Alumni Gym, a building that had been on the planning board since 1898. It would feature “excellent equipment for all types of indoor sports, and will also be used for school assemblies and dances. With an area of 14,700 square feet, the gym [would be] the only campus building in which the entire student body can meet as a unit.” Its innovative makai bleachers could be reversed to face the gym or the nearby pool as required. (The Alumni Gym and other elements of the Memorial Center were replaced by the new Physical Education and Athletics Complex in 1981.)

Fundraising activities were combined with the 1945 Victory Loan Drive. With this effort, students would be asked to sell both Victory bonds and Series F or G bonds made out to Punahou for the War Memorial Drive. A $500,000 goal was set.

The Alumni Association sparked the effort with a $1,000 contribution that was announced at the Sept. 8, 1945, homecoming celebration. On this occasion a poster plaque, displaying the then nearly 800 alumni who had served in the war (855 were ultimately included in this number), was unveiled. William W. Paty (1912), president of the association exhorted the children and grandchildren of many of the alumni to contribute to “a fitting memorial to Punahou’s part in the war, it is a matter of individual responsibility to send in a gift, no matter how small, to show that Punahou alumni are 100 percent behind the Punahou of today and tomorrow.”

Appeals were made to 2,500 graduates and 1,500 non-graduates of the School. Approximately 800 would contribute. Parents, friends and the business community were also solicited. By January 1946 more than $435,266 had been raised; the goal was nearly met by the end of the year with $499,519.35 received. To this sum, $198,781.83 that had been contributed to the 1941 Centennial building fund was added.

A memorial plaque was part of the plans from the start. Minutes from the July 19, 1945, inaugural meeting of the Punahou War Memorial Publicity Committee list Edgar Schenck (1927), Helen Maxon (1924), William Paty, Sr. (1912), George Hargrave, and Margaret Young (1918) on the plaque sub-committee. So important was this effort that plans were made for a hand-lettered, temporary plaque to be displayed even before the buildings were completed.

The permanent plaques were designed by Richard “Dick” Scott ’51 and cast in bronze by the students of the Castle manual arts shop. By the time of their dedication on May 29, 1951, on Alexander Field, they would include the names of five who had died in the Korean War. The flag that had covered the casket of Richard Webster Boyden ’41 would be dedicated to the School during the service.

After fits and starts, work on the buildings began in 1950. The formal dedication would be made at the War Memorial Center patio on Oct. 5, 1952.

Featured speakers at the late afternoon ceremony included Punahou Chaplain Kenneth O. Rewick, Punahou President Dr. John F. Fox, and Living Endowment Secretary Francis A. I. Bowers (1920). The Punahou Choir sang “Bless This House,” members of the Hi-Y served as ushers and a ROTC color guard stood at attention. Cyrus Faryar ’53 and Carolyn Pillsbury ’53 read Jolita Coughlin’s poem. Present in the audience were the scores of Punahou friends who had supported the project.

Walter F. Dillingham (1889), chairman of the Board of Trustees, officially announced these and other buildings and grounds would bear names in an effort to be “conscious of our ‘Punahou traditions,’ and … be sure that our new facilities add to, and become a part of, the traditions of the School.”

Names that were memorialized in new campus facilities that day included: Rev. Daniel Dole, first Punahou president (Dole Hall); P. C. Jones, longtime Punahou treasurer (Faculty Dining Room); Arthur F. Griffiths, former Punahou president (Griffiths Girls Gym); General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (Armstrong Hall); Mary P. Winne (Mary Persis Winne Elementary Units); the Damon family (Damon Library); and William W. Chamberlain (1892) (Chamberlain Field).

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Postcript

In 1950 the Dillingham family dedicated the Henry Gaylord Dillingham ’35 Memorial Tennis Courts in memory of their son, a U.S. Air Force captain who was killed in action over Japan in 1945. Vladimir Ossipoff, who also designed the Mary Persis Winne Elementary Units, was the architect.

With the 1964 construction of Cooke Library, the school flagpole was relocated to its present position at the Memorial Center. The old wooden pole would be replaced with a 60-foot aluminum pole at a cost of $6,000.

After years of being held at different campus locations, Memorial Day Services were moved to Thurston Memorial Chapel in 1968. The Ossipoff-designed chapel is named in honor of Lt. Robert Shipman Thurston, Jr. ’41, who was lost on a military plane in 1945 in the Pacific.

In 1982, the Punahou Alumni Association purchased and installed at the flagpole (in time for the Memorial Day campus service) two bronze plaques honoring alumni who were killed in action during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Designed by Clarence Lee and fabricated for $1,328, they list the last known sons of Punahou who gave their lives in service to their country.

One Survived

Rowland Daniel Wolfe, Jr. (1934), who is listed on the WWII plaque, did not die in service to his country, but passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and family in San Antonio, Texas at age 92.

Wolfe attended Punahou from 1923 to 1925. He later attended Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned at West Point. In 1943 he graduated from Ohio State’s College of Dentistry. Wolfe served with the 42nd Rainbow Division in WWII and earned a Purple Heart. Following the war he was as an Air Force dentist for over 20 years before retiring to teach at San Antonio College. He died on Nov. 28, 2007, long after WWII’s guns had fallen silent.

References:

“Memorial Service For Punahou Boys.” Oahuan. May 1919: 46.

“Plaque Honoring Punahou’s War Dead Unveiled.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 29 May 1926: 2.

“Heroes Are Honored at Old Punahou.” The Honolulu Advertiser. 26 May 1926: 1.

“Shop Craftsmen Planning Plaque For War Dead.” Ka Punahou. 12 Dec. 1950.

“Flag Pole To Be Dedicated Friday.” Ka Punahou. 25 May 1926: 1.

“Memorial Plaque.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 29 April 1932.

“New Memorial Plaque Being Made at Shop.” Ka Punahou. 26 April 1932: 1.

“Memorial Service Held Around Flagpole.” Ka Punahou. 3 June 1941: 1.

Dodge, Charlotte Peabody. Punahou: The War Years. Honolulu, HI: Punahou School, 1984.

“Punahou Heroes Are Paid Tribute.” The Honolulu Advertiser. 14 Sept. 1944: 2.

“Plans for Plaque Bearing Names of All in Service From Punahou Are Made.” Ka Punahou. 14 Mar. 1944: 1.

“Memorial Day Program Tomorrow At 8 A.M.” Ka Punahou. 28 May 1946: 3.

“Punahou to Dedicate Memorial Center Oct. 5.” Ka Punahou. 30 Sept. 1952.

“Lest We Forget.” Punahou Lokahian. April 1952: 1.

“Victory Bond Sale for War Memorial Fund.” Punahou Alumni Bulletin. 31 Oct. 1945: 1+.

“Punahou Heroes Are Paid Tribute.” The Honolulu Advertiser. 14 September 1944: 2.

“Names of War Heroes Are Listed on Plaque.” Punahou Alumni Bulletin. 31 Oct. 1945: 3.

“Alumni Assn Votes $1,000 To Fund Drive.” Punahou Alumni Bulletin. 31 Oct. 1945: 1.

“Fund Drive Is Nearing Goal Of $500,000.” Punahou Alumni Bulletin. 1 Feb. 1946: 1.

Punahou War Memorial Publicity Committee Report. 19 July 1945.

“Punahou to Honor Memory Of Its War Dead Tuesday.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 28 May 1951: 5.

“‘Living Memorial’ Dedicated.” Punahou Lokahian. Oct. 1952: 2.

“Punahou ‘Memorials’ Committee.” Letter from John F. Fox. 20 Dec. 1951.

“Minutes of the Punahou School Board of Trustees.” 14 June 1963.

“Alumni.” Punahou Bulletin. Summer 1982: 30.

“Minutes of the Board of Directors, Punahou Alumni Association.” 11 May 1982.

“John Hara Associates Inc. Letter of Transmittal.” 14 Apr. 1982.

World Connect Project. 20 Feb. 2015. Rootsweb. 20 Feb. 2015. http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=mwoehrle&id=I95093.

The MAD Scientist Network. 1995-2001 or 30 Feb. 1906. Washington U
School of Medicine. 10 Oct. 2005. .

Heroes of Punahou Lost in Battle

Lieutenant Michael Timothy McCormick ’64

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Mike McCormick as pictured in the 1964 Oahuan.

On Jan. 10, 1973, just 17 days before the Paris Peace Accords were signed ending American involvement in the Vietnam War, Lt. Michael Timothy McCormick was killed while flying his A-6 “Intruder” over Nghe An Province. He was 26. McCormick and his bombardier/navigator Lt. JG Robert Alan Clark would be the last two air crewmen to die in the multi-year conflict.

That is how Mike McCormick captioned his senior picture in the 1964 Oahuan. Coming to Punahou in his junior year from Annandale, Virginia, he spent an active two years at Punahou involved in soccer, track, glee club and various class committees. Life, for him, was indeed good.

“Life is just a bowl of jello – shaky but good.”

After Punahou, McCormick would graduate from Notre Dame University. He was commissioned in the Navy shortly after graduation. In April 1972 he joined the USS Midway. In Vietnam, he participated in 103 strikes and 83 direct combat support missions.

Flying on July 19, 1972, McCormick’s plane was hit. His bombardier, Lt. Raymond P. Donnelley, was killed and the plane’s canopy blown away. Traveling more than 100 miles back to the Midway, McCormick successfully landed. He refused aid for himself while he attempted to revive his crewman.

McCormick would be shot down six months later while supporting B52 airstrikes over North Vietnam. He and his A-6 wingman flew out on an overcast day with 1,500-foot cloud cover. Over their target area, they encountered intense surface-to-air missile (SAM) activity. Three SAMs were launched against the A-6s. The cloud cover made it difficult to judge the rockets’ trajectory and reduced the pilots’ reaction time.

Completing his mission, the second pilot waited offshore for McCormick to rendezvous. Receiving no radio response, he retraced the flight route but failed to spot any fires indicating a crashed plane. Search and rescue missions followed for four days with no sign of either the downed aircraft or its crew.

Both airmen were declared Mission In Action.

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Lt. Michael Timothy McCormick

With the thawing of relationships in the mid-1980’s, Vietnam began allowing U.S. access to crash sites and other locations. In July 1991 a “data plate” was found in a Vietnamese military museum that matched Clark’s plane. Photos of a crash site were discovered in another museum. Joint U.S./Vietnamese teams conducted four field investigations. During a site excavation a witness came forward with remains he had removed from the downed plane. Additional remains were excavated in 2002. Skeletal analysis and mitochondrial DNA tests confirmed that these were the remains of the missing airmen.

Both men were buried together in Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 9, 2004, almost 30 years to the day of their disappearance over Vietnam.

McCormick was married to the former Wendy Warren, who was also a member of Punahou’s Class of 1964.

Awards:

Military Awards: Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (2), Individual Action Air Medals (4), Strike/Flight Air Medals (13), Navy Commendation Medals (4)

Civilian: The Rev. William Corby Award, University of Notre Dame, 1997.

Memorials:

Buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Grave shared with Lt. JG Robert A. Clark.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Courts of the Missing. (Court B)

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall (Panel W1, Line 110)

A Grumman A-6 Intruder with McCormick’s name on it sits on the U.S.S. Midway

Punahou School Memorial Center, Vietnam War Plaque

Sources:

Silver Star Citation, Michael Timothy McCormick.

“Bio, McCormick, Michael T.” P.O.W. Network. 13 Oct. 2014. http://www.pownetwork.org/bios/m/m192.htm

Celebration ’64: The Punahou School Class of 1964. Honolulu: Legacy Isle Publishing, 2014.

Captain William John “Jack” Rainalter ’41

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Jack Rainalter as pictured in the 1941 Oahuan.

John “Jack” Rainalter came to Punahou in fifth grade and graduated with the “greatest Centennial class” of 1941. He was remembered in the Oahuan as an individual “who says very little, but accomplishes quite a bit.”

From Punahou, Rainalter went to Stanford University where, as a varsity swimmer, he continued the sport in which he had lettered at Punahou. After two years, he left Stanford to join the Navy Air Force. He later volunteered for the Marine Air Force.

A member of the famous Major Joe Foss’ squadron based in New Guinea, Rainalter’s WWII career netted him the Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster.

On Dec. 11, 1944 he sank two Japanese transports off Leyte in the Philippines and shot down a Zero before he bailed out of his burning Corsair into no-man’s-land between Japanese and Filipino guerrillas on Leyte.

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Captain Rainalter

He was found by a band of guerrillas. In a Honolulu Advertiser article, he described his five days with them as living the life “of a maharajah.” Rainalter ate raw eggs by the dozen. “Every day the Filipinos came to me each with a fresh egg from nearby villages. I ate the eggs the way they did, knocking off the top and downing it raw. I couldn’t hurt their feelings. As a result I ate about 15 raw eggs a day.” Infiltrating a line of Japanese paratroopers, the guerillas led him back to American hands.

In his Punahou School oral history, classmate Bill Morris ’41 remembered a daring Rainalter:

[He] was a Marine pilot. World War II he got in trouble there. He tried to get too close to the water. The prop hit the water and the plane tipped over. They were going to court martial but Joe Foss, who was a big war hero and was the first to get 25 planes in World War II, he spoke up for him so he wasn’t court marshaled. He was okay.

Rainalter completed his studies at Stanford following the war. While there, he won the college heavyweight boxing championship.

He re-entered the Marine Corps and returned to the sky soon after the Korean War began. From the aircraft carrier Bataan, he would fly more than 60 missions over enemy territory before drawing his first “blank” on April 13, 1951.

Less than two weeks later, on April 22, Rainalter would be killed in action in the vicinity of Sariwon, Korea. Striking repeatedly against an enemy airfield despite intense fire, he destroyed two hostile batteries. Continuing his assault until his supply of bombs and rockets had been exhausted, he returned to execute numerous low strafing runs on the remaining positions. After silencing the third emplacement, his plane was hit, burst into flames, and crashed into the target. For his “superb courage, indomitable fighting spirit and staunch devotion to duty in the face of intense and accurate hostile anti-aircraft fire” he was awarded the Silver Star. His remains were never recovered.

Awards:

Military Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon.

Memorials:

Remains not recovered

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Courts of the Missing. (Court 8)

Punahou School Memorial Center, United Nations Police Action Korea

Sources:

Cummings, Margaret K. “’Buzz’ Is Rescued By Guerrillas After He Blasts Japanese Ships.” Honolulu Advertiser. 27 Feb. 1945.

“Island Pilot Arrives Too Late as Red Trucks Are Burning.” Honolulu Advertiser. 16 Apr. 1951.

Oral History of Bill Morris. Punahou School Oral History Collection. Jan. 2013.

Silver Star Citation, William John Rainalter.

Major John “Jack” Alexander Johnson, Jr. ’31

It is often said that those who know you best are those who know you from your earliest days. If this is true, then Jack Johnson’s classmates knew a lot about the boy who had traveled with them through Punahou from grade 1 to 12.

“Jack” left them with plenty of memories. There was the time that he “let his knickerbockers, very baggy ones, hang down around his ankles and tried to persuade himself that they looked like long pants.” Or when Mr. Aiken set a fire in Pauahi Hall that went unnoticed until Jack sounded the gong. Jack was known for his flaming red hair, a “Portugee accent” that stood out in the very English comedy “She Stoops to Conquer,” and a talent for Alexander Field athletics that were obvious from his earliest days. The Oahuan summed Johnson up as follows:

Red hair, Portugee accent, freckles – Jack Johnson. This broad-shouldered boy has been the terror and delight of the winmen ever since Elementary and one of Alma Mater’s noblest athletes from “long-base” days – see baseball and football letters. Rewarded with the Senior class presidency, he grinned through the year with ease – a great man.

Soon this great man’s influence would be felt beyond Punahou.

After Punahou, Johnson attended the University of Hawai‘i and gained fame during his four years on the football team, the last as team captain. He became one of the all-time Island football greats.

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Captain Jack Johnson congratulates the captain-elect, Adolph Mendonca. (1935 UH yearbook photo)

His football career was capped by a memorable New Year’s Day 14-0 Pineapple Bowl victory over the University of California. Johnson’s booming coffin corner kicks kept the visiting Bears deep in their own territory and his tip of the ball from the hands of a would-be receiver denied a certain touchdown. Coach Otto Klum would remember the team’s underdog win as the greatest of his football career.

For his kicking achievements Johnson was enshrined as a member of the All-Time University of Grid Team in 1957.

Off of the field, Johnson’s leadership was also evident. He was the President of the Hui Lokahi Fraternity, as well as a member of the soccer and swim teams, Student Council, H Club, Saber and Chain military fraternity, Warrior of the Pacific rifle team, and student commander of the Army Reserve Officer’s Corp.

After graduating, Johnson went to Kaua‘i to work for the Kauai Railway Company at Ele‘ele. By 1940 he was an assistant agriculturist in training at the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association experiment station. He was then called into the National Guard.

In May 1942 the Hawaii Provisional Infantry Battalion was formed at Fort Shafter, the progenitor of the famous 100th Battalion. Named to lead this group of Nisei soldiers was Lieutenant Colonel Farrant L. Turner ’13. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Turner had commanded Nisei in the National Guard and worked with them as a civilian. Under him he appointed others with deep Hawai‘i roots and similar local experiences; including Captain Jack Johnson.

Johnson met up with the 100th – nicknamed the “One Puka Puka” – in June 1942 at the 14,000-acre training facility at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. His wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Knudsen ’37, would join him during this halcyon time when the local-boy soldiers first saw snow and experienced the bright lights of cities as far-flung as Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington D. C.

Despite the distractions, the unit’s purpose was deadly serious. Basic training was repeated, physical capacity and language skills tested. Further expeditions to Camp Shelby (Mississippi) and Camp Claiborne (Louisiana) would develop rifle skills, tactics, and leadership. It would not be until Aug. 21, 1943, that the unit was ready to sail for Oran, Algeria, and then to the shores of Salerno, Italy, where they arrived on September 22.

It was in Italy where the 100th would earn its nickname, “The Purple Heart Battalion.” Italy’s fierce fighting was legendary. Of the battalion’s 1,300 who made the Salerno landing, only 521 would remain by January.

Johnson himself was wounded during a Nov. 5, 1943 crossing of the Volturno River. His wounds kept him in a Naples hospital for five weeks after which he immediately returned to his men.

Johnson was welcomed. The physical strain of the campaign had lead to the reassignment of both Colonel Turner and his successor. On December 25, Captain Johnson was promoted to Major and became the unit’s executive officer.

Having led some of the men when serving with the Hawaii National Guard, Johnson knew what motivated them:

The boys feel they are on the spot and they have a personal duty to make the people at home feel they really are as much American as anyone. They are no different from any other soldiers but they have an added incentive to fight – because some of their fathers are in the internment camps at home.

He would lead by example. Just two weeks before his death he exposed himself to enemy artillery fire to locate the enemy’s position on a hill beyond his command post. For this action he was awarded the Bronze Star:

Maj. Johnson’s bravery in directing mortar fire on the enemy’s position from open terrain forced the enemy to withdraw and enabled Company I of the 100th to take the hill the following day.

But it was during his Jan. 25, 1944 action, taken during the battle for Monte Cassino, that Johnson would win him the eternal affection of his men.

Company B was ordered to join with Companies A and C at a Rapido River dike. Between them lay a dark sea of mud littered with mines that had already caused many losses. The order to advance came during broad daylight. With Germans hidden among the rocks and trees atop an unobstructed slope, the path was deadly. Because he refused to advance his men into this precarious position, an officer was relieved of duty and replaced by Major George Dewey.

Although seeing that the path was dangerous, Dewey was determined to obey the order, but not until he surveyed the challenge: “I can’t order the men of Company B forward unless I personally make sure what conditions on the ground are like.”

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Major John "Jack" Alexander Johnson

Johnson was strongly opposed to the idea and messaged Company A Captain Mitsuyoshi Fukuda to come across the mud to lead him and Dewey to the dike. It was not until 10 p.m. that Fukuda would embark with the others.

Fukuda recalled that Johnson and Dewey were far behind him. The German machine guns were rattling but their fire was not heavy. Suddenly a mine exploded and a scream pierced the darkness. Johnson called out, his voice rasping with pain.

One soldier had been killed. Dewey and Johnson were wounded. Because of the danger, battalion headquarters would only send two medics with a stretcher to the site. They were dispatched with the order to “save Jack first.”

Both medics would later die in action so it is hard to know why, despite this order, they returned instead with Dewey. Perhaps it was his similar muscular build or the mud and gore that covered his body. Some speculate that Johnson ordered the medics to follow proper military procedure and first take Dewey who was older and the battalion commander.

The medics did not return for Johnson until 3 a.m. Though originally not as badly wounded as Dewey, Johnson had hemorrhaged during the wait and was barely breathing when found. He would never make it to the hospital, but died in the arms of his friend Reverend Yost who would recall Johnson’s remarks following a burial ceremony: “You do a nice job. But don’t bother to take much time when my turn comes.”

Johnson was well remembered by those who knew him and made time to honor him when his turn came. Johnson Hall would become a home for University of Hawai‘i students, vehicles entering Fort Shafter would pass through the Johnson Gate, Punahou School students would sell war bonds to name a bomber “Red Jack” in his honor, and eponymous UH scholarships would ensure that Johnson’s name was known by new generations.

And his men? Years later 100th veterans who spoke of the battle of Monte Cassino expressed the loss of their beloved executive officer. Staff Sergeant Mike Tokunaga described a return to Johnson’s gravesite in 1994, 50 years after his death:

We then went to the Nettuno American Military Cemetery where 80 members of our tour had an emotional ceremony at the grave of Major Jack Johnson. After decorating his grave with a lot of flowers, Mrs. Ikuma, who was 84 years old, lead the group in the Lord’s Prayer and Aloha Oe. There was not a dry eye in the group.

Awards:

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, American Defense Service Medal and Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and Ribbon Armored, American Campaign Medal and Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal and Ribbon

Memorials:

Buried at the American Military Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy

John A. Johnson Hall, The University of Hawaii at Manoa. The building was dedicated on November 14, 1957 to the Varsity Victory Volunteers, the 100th Infantry Battalion, and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The building is included as one of the Pacific War Memorial Monuments.

Major John A. Johnson Memorial Award for outstanding University of Hawaii sophomore ROTC students. First awarded in 1948.

Jack Johnson Memorial Scholarship for exceptional University of Hawaii athletes

Johnson Gate, Fort Shafter, Honolulu, Hawaii

“Red Jack” bomber plane, dedicated by Punahou Students on April 19, 1944 after the Fifth War Loan drive

Punahou School Memorial Center, World War II Plaque

Sources:

“Class History.” 1931 Oahuan. Territory of Hawaii: Punahou

“School Year: January.” 1931 Oahuan. Territory of Hawaii: Punahou School: 105.

“Jack Johnson.” 1931 Oahuan. Territory of Hawaii: Punahou School: 20.

“28 Named to All-Time UH Grid Team.” KaLeo. 25 Mar. 1957: 9.

Ka Palapala, 1936.

McQueen, Red. “University Honors Jack Johnson.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 16 Nov. 1957.

“Maj. Jack Johnson Jr. Killed On Italy Front.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 16 Feb. 1944.

“’Jack’ Johnson, Now a Major, Commands Islanders in Italy.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 28 Dec. 1943.

“Maj. Jack Johnson Awarded Bronze Star Posthumously.” The Honolulu Advertiser. 25 Nov. 1945.

Duus, Masayo. Unlikely Liberators: the Men of the 100th and 442nd. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987: 120-122.

Tsukano, John. Bridge of Love. Honolulu: Hawaii Hosts, 1985: 204.

Commander George Fleming Davis (1928)

Of the 16.1 million service members who served in WWII, fewer than 500 received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force that can be bestowed upon someone in the U.S. Armed Services. One of these was Punahou’s George Fleming Davis.

Davis was a Punahou student from 1917 to 1925. He later attended the U.S. Naval Academy. While there, his classmates nicknamed him “Red.” He was known for a love of lacrosse as well as a “sunny disposition and sense of humor” while “looking for the good in everything.”

After graduating in 1934 he was commissioned as an ensign and served on a variety of vessels including the heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa, Scouting Squadron (VS) 12-S and 14-S, the destroyer Broome, and the Hopkins on May 3, 1940. He served through the Hopkins’ conversion to a high sweep minesweeper at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.

On Sept. 10, 1941 then-lieutenant Davis was assigned to the battleship Oklahoma. He would be serving on the Oklahoma the morning of Dec. 7, 1941 when torpedoes launched from a Japanese carrier attack plane would rip open the ship’s port side. She would sink as she lay outboard of the Maryland. Four hundred and twenty-nine crewmembers died in the attack.

With the Oklahoma’s loss, Davis was reassigned to the light cruiser Honolulu where he served for two-and-a-half years. On her he would see action in 11 engagements including the bombardment of Kiska (August 1942), the Battle of Tassafaronga (December 1942), action in Guadalcanal (January 1943), the bombardment of Kolombangara (May 1943), fighting around New Georgia (June 1943), and the Battles of Kula Gulf and Kolombangara (July 1943). He was awarded The Legion of Merit for his “excellent organization” through which “his department successfully met every emergency.”

Davis was next promoted to commander and came on board the destroyer Walke. With the ship serving in the Leyte Gulf, he would experience the devastation of kamikaze attacks on Dec. 7, 1944. It was on this day he would earn the Silver Star for saving the survivors of the Mahan, whose ship had been struck by three planes and mortally damaged. Despite exploding magazines and ongoing heavy air attacks Davis maneuvered the Walke to save all but the six men who had died in the initial attack. His ship later shot down 14 planes while screening the retiring convoy.

Davis’ actions following a Jan. 6, 1945, kamikaze attack would earn him his Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, it would also mean sacrificing his life in service of his country. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Commander George Fleming Davis (NSN: 0-73637), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. WALKE (DD-723) engaged in a detached mission in support of minesweeping operations to clear the waters for entry of our heavy surface and amphibious forces preparatory to the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 6 January 1945. Operating without gun support of other surface ships when four Japanese suicide planes were detected flying low overland to attack simultaneously, Commander Davis boldly took his position in the exposed wings of the bridge and directed control to pick up the leading plane and open fire. Alert and fearless as the WALKE's deadly fire sent the first target crashing into the water and caught the second as it passed close over the bridge to plunge into the sea of portside, he remained steadfast in the path of the third plane plunging swiftly to crash the after end of the bridge structure. Seriously wounded when the craft struck, drenched with gasoline and immediately enveloped in flames, he conned the WALKE in the midst of the wreckage; he rallied his command to heroic efforts; he exhorted his officers and men to save the ship and, still on his feet, saw the barrage from his guns destroy the fourth suicide bomber. With the fires under control and the safety of the ship assured, he consented to be carried below. Succumbing several hours later, Commander Davis by his example of valor and his unhesitating self-sacrifice, steeled the fighting spirit of his command into unyielding purpose in completing a vital mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Note: Also serving in the Philippines was Captain Francis Brown Wai ’35, another Punahou Medal of Honor award winner.

Awards:

Congressional Medal of Honor, Silver Star Medal and Ribbon, One Gold Star to Silver Star, Legion of Merit Medal and Ribbon, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal and Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and Ribbon Armored, World War II Victory Medal and Ribbon

Memorials:

USSDavisPatch.jpg

Buried at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines

The destroyer USS Davis (DD 937), 1957-1994 was named in his honor.

Punahou School Memorial Center, World War II Plaque

Sources:

“Davis (DD-937).” Naval History and Heritage Command. 20 March 2015. http://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/d/davis-iv.html

Award Citation, Legion of Merit. 5 Dec. 1946.

Award Citation, Silver Star. 24 May 1945.

Award Citation, Medal of Honor. 6 January 1945.

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