Issei, Nisei and Kibei Share Their Stories of Being Interned in Hawai‘i During World War II
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
This month marks 75 years since Honouliuli, the largest and longest-operating internment camp in Hawai‘i, opened during World War II. It opened in March of 1943 in a deep gulch off Kunia Road near ‘Ewa and Waipahu. It housed Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans, internees of other ethnicities and prisoners of war.
In consultation with Hawai‘i Herald editor Karleen Chinen, I have decided to use this anniversary as an opportunity to launch the publication of a series of write-ups of interviews I conducted in 1980 with internees who were incarcerated at Honouliuli and Sand Island Detention Camp. At a time when there was little to no awareness or knowledge of Honouliuli in Hawai‘i, I was fortunate to have located and asked former internees about their experiences while their memories were still quite vivid.
I was able to interview seven people in all through a series of events that began at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. After graduating from college, I returned to Hawai‘i from the Mainland and spent an academic year at UH-Mänoa. I was thinking of becoming a writer, so I took four journalism courses during the spring 1980 semester.
One of them was a two-semester course called “Magazine Journalism” with a professor whose name I don’t remember. It was a small class, and the major assignment was to research and write a magazine article (in those days, long-form journalism — longer stories than we tend to see these days in magazines — was common).
The class had started the previous fall. Since I joined in the spring semester, I was asked to pair up with Mike Gordon. (Mike went on to become a reporter for the Honolulu Advertiser and, subsequently, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.) The topic of our magazine article was Honouliuli. Mike and I decided that he would do archival research on the camp and I would interview former internees.
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Gail Honda is a writer in Honolulu. She can be reached at (808) 942-4783 or firstname.lastname@example.org.