Monday, September 29, 2014

Tour of December 7, 1941 Ewa Field, US Navy SBD And Japanese Aichi Val Crash Sites

Tour of December 7, 1941 Ewa Field, US Navy SBD And Japanese Aichi Val Crash Sites 

by John Bond, Ewa Battlefield historian

Thomas Z Reese Photo

September 24, 2014 

MCAS Ewa Tour Visits Bullet Marked 1941 Ewa Field, 1942 Marine Fighter Aircraft Revetments and December 7, 1941 Crash Site Area of Val and SBD.

Four US Navy SBD's from the USS Enterprise were shot down over Ewa on 
December 7, 1941 by Zero fighters killing six of eight airmen, 
while Army P-40's shot down four Japanese airmen and three other Army pilots 
died in two civilian planes shot down-  yet today this Ewa air battle 
history and those who died have been virtually unrecognized and forgotten... 

National Archives photo shows where the Japanese Val and Navy SBD crashed, as taken from a passing B-17E bomber attempting a landing at nearby Hickam Field.

Jack Matthews series depicts shot up Aichi Val heading for crash landing off Ewa shore

Lee Embree photo shows the two Aichi Val wingmen passing by the large B-17E

Army P-40 fighters are credited with shooting down Aichi Val dive bombers over Ewa


Ewa Tour Visits Bullet Marked 1941 Ewa Field, 1942 Marine fighter aircraft revetments and December 7, 1941 crash site area of D3A Aichi "Val" and US Navy SBD that killed four air crew. 

Four US Navy planes, two Japanese planes and two civilian planes were shot down over Ewa killing 13 airmen, which isn't even the full extent of the Ewa air battle action nearly totally forgotten today.

The Japanese air crew remain buried at the crash site.

                                                                Thomas Z Reese Photos

Tour begins at 1941 bullet marked Ewa Field and then to 1942 fighter plane revetments

The defensive 1942 fighter plane revetments explained as a reaction to Ewa Field air attack

Pearl Harbor historian Daniel Martinez provides historic context of the Ewa battlefield  

Ewa Cultural Practitioner Michael Kumukauoha Lee explains iwi as sacred to Hawaiians

Japanese interpreter Stacy Smith does a remarkable job translating the historic information

Ewa Cultural Practitioner Michael Kumukauoha Lee provides a prayer-chant for the iwi

Pearl Harbor historian Daniel Martinez explains the Val crash and NPS museum artifacts

September 24, 2014 Shubun no hi crash area visitors offers leis in observance of
killed American and Japanese aviators. The Japanese air crew remain buried on the site.

This mound is NOT the actual crash site, which has yet to be specifically located. 


Shubun no hi / 秋分の日

The origin of Higan—a seven-day festival marking the vernal equinox, Shunbun-no-hi is unknown, but has been widely observed in Japan since the eighth century. The autumn equinox generally happens around September 23 of each year and is known as Shubun no hi.

The word higan means “the other shore,” a Buddhist term that comes from the idea that there is a river marking the division of this life from the world of salvation. This river is full of illusion, passion, and sorrow, and only by crossing to the other shore can one gain enlightenment and enter nirvana. It is said that, when night and day are equal (as occurs on the equinox) the Buddha appears on earth to save stray souls and help them make the crossing. Thus the visit to the family cemetery on this occasion is a happy event. 


Shot down Navy SBD airmen flew off the USS Enterprise (CV-6) on the morning of 
December 7, 1941 not knowing they were arriving during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Photos show progression of Haseko development and the Val and SBD crash site area

Also see below:

                            * Four US Navy USS Enterprise SBD's Shot Down In                         Same Ewa Crash Site Area

* Virtual 360 Views of December 7, 1941 Ewa Battlefield Crash Site Areas


Japanese dead might remain buried on Oahu

33 men killed on Dec. 7, 1941, could be resting in the ocean or in unmarked graves on land
By William Cole   Sept 03, 2013 Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Fifty-four Japanese aviators are believed to have died in or near Hawaii during the Sunday morning attack. A 55th fatality was returned to the carrier Akagi.

Most are believed to have been lost at sea around Hawaii and in Pearl Harbor. But four aircrew members may still lie buried in unmarked graves in Ewa Beach... 

Pearl Harbor historian David Aiken said 25 airmen and three submariners were buried at Oahu Cemetery in Nuuanu, Wahiawa cemetery and the Schofield Barracks post cemetery. After the war, the bodies were disinterred and repatriated to Japan, historians say.  Aiken said that leaves 29 airmen unrecovered on or near Hawaii.


Virtual 360 Views of December 7, 1941 Ewa Battlefield Crash Site Areas

By John Bond, Ewa Battlefield Historian 

One'ula Beach Park. Look north towards the Waianae Mountains, going inland and this is where the Val and SBD crashed near each other.  Look down the beach towards Diamond Head and you see a point of land and a second beach where a large pole sticks up. That beach was called Ha'u Bush where Ewa Plantation had a private beach. This was an important Dec. 7 eye-witness vantage point.

On December 7, 1941 there were Ewa Plantation high school kids camping there and one of them saw a great deal of the action that morning which we have documented on video in an interview on the Ha'u Bush location a few years ago. There was also a previous interview done there in 2001 as part of a Honolulu Advertiser special series on Pearl Harbor.

Having stood on the Ha'u Bush location myself I can say that it would have been extremely unlikely to have seen the Val crash any further West than White Plains Beach as seen from Ha'u Bush Beach. It would have been too far out of sight and mind with all of the other noise and action going on. But this eye witness saw the Val crash in the ocean off shore.

Turning the view West you see a shore fishing pole. Directly beyond it, down to White Plains Beach and about 1-300 hundred yards offshore the other Val crashed. I believe they paddled in from the off shore crash. The gunner likely may have been dead by then. Why bother to "save" him if there wasn't a belief that his body could be recovered later by a Japanese submarine landing?

I believe these Val pilots weren't acting on self preservation but instead upon a pre flight briefing which noted locations on the Ewa plain attack and withdrawal route where a rescue was possible.

This is White Plains Beach, the area where it would be conducive to quickly land a shot up plane off shore and then paddle in and try to hide out- to hopefully contact an of shore Japanese submarine for rescue. In this Val crash the pilot brought his already dead gunner ashore and buried him...

The Japanese pilot would NOT have made an effort to save himself and his gunner if he didn't think there was a chance he could be rescued and his crewman's body recovered.

As we know, these pilots were told things to memorize before their launch but to not write them down. If they thought capture was likely they would have killed themselves and not attempted evasion. There is no instance where Japanese crew attempted to bail out of a plane on December 7. That would have been the height of cowardice. But crash landing in a remote area with submarines off shore, a case for evasion with a chance for rescue, was a different story...

This site in 1941 offered great seclusion, fresh water, sea food, shallow sandy sea floor... today the area is a US Navy Seal training range. While the beach is still Navy owned it is today used by the general public.

Nimitz Beach- in this area and further West, remains of a Val were found by beach comber Pat Beter of Waipahu after the area had been pounded by Hurricane Iniki.


Four US Navy USS Enterprise SBD's Shot Down In Same Ewa Crash Site Area

Six airmen killed, gunner Mitchell Cohn remains were never located at the crash site...

Photos from: "East Wind Rain"   by Stan Cohen 1981

Both airmen killed in the same Ewa crash area as the Japanese Aichi Val 

Mitchell Cohn was killed in this Ewa crash and his body was never recovered.

US Navy SBD  Douglass Dauntless dive bombers 



One'ula Beach: The Ewa Location Of Historic December 7, 1941 Air Photos By Lee Embree From Army Boeing B-17 

Ewa Corridor- Most Important, Least Documented Aspect of Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack

Boeing B-17E (unarmed) which took famous photos of Ewa air attack and crash site

Draft Ewa Plains Battlefield Nomination And Photo Archive Available: