By Dan Shea
Most people visit Hawaii for the weather and the beaches, or once a year they travel to the Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Service in Pearl. On a recent expedition to Waikiki, your roving correspondent got wind of two other museums that are less well known. The first is the U. S. Army Museum in Battery Randolf in the Waikiki area, and the second is the Tropic Lightning Museum at Schofield Barracks.
Located on the West end of Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, by a quiet park where people can be seen strolling underneath the majestic Royal Palms, you will sometimes see military drills being performed. This park is located off to the seaward side of Kalakuau Avenue, just before you reach the hotel stretch. If you take a minute to drive around the park, it won’t take you long before you notice some oddities- a row of tanks and field guns. A Cobra Helicopter on a roof.
When you see these, take a moment to park and walk inside the U. S. Army Museum. It will be a trip well worth your time.
Battery Randolf was one of the major pieces of the coastal defense system on Oahu. Built in 1908-11, there were two 14 inch rifles on disappearing mounts, and a complete internal system for feeding ammunition to the two pieces. This well made fort served for about 35 years, but was made obsolete by the knowledge of the new forms of attack illustrated with the December 7th Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The museum is not devoted to that battle, as there are other displays on Oahu that have been dedicated to that. The U. S. Army Museum is meant to tell the story of the contributions that Hawaii made to its own defense and the stories of the sacrifices of the Hawaiians in battle around the world. The stories of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment are thoroughly told in attractive displays.
Many accurate models are interspersed in with the real firearms (None are functional). As far as museums go, this one is an excellent place to visit. The timeline of service by Hawaiians started with the canoe battles and went through WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the peacetime service in between. Tied in with the very well choreographed photographic displays are memorabilia of the wars. The home front is represented as well as the service done far away.
Students of small arms can find many interesting firearms here, as well as proper layouts of the accessories that went with them. Of particular interest is the section with the WWII and Vietnam weaponry. As noted in the photos accompanying this article, the displays are very thorough.
Suffice it to say that I was impressed. Interspersed with all of the wonderful things to do on vacation, is an opportunity to broaden your knowledge of history, and to actually see many of the small arms used by our armed forces. Of particular note was the opportunity to take an “Up close” and personal look at the DShK 12.7mm machine gun.
SAR rates the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii as “A good place to visit”. Take a kid, and drop a twenty in their donation jar. Keep passing it on.- Dan Shea
Hours of Operation: Closed Monday
Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00am to 4:30pm
U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii
Museum Division, DPTMSEC, USAG-HI
Schofield Barracks, HI 96857-5000
The U.S. Army Museum is located in Historic Battery Randolf on the beach at Fort DeRussy, next to the Hale Koa Hotel- at the corner of Kalia and Saratoga Roads.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N10 (July 1998)|