This tome, Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the Mokapu Peninsula, by Raymond Rippel, is unique in its approach and has a broader audience than one might first assume based upon the title. The typical visitor to Hawaii has their favorite island and their favorite beaches and may never venture beyond Honolulu or Haleiwa on O’ahu or Lahaina on Maui or Kona on the big island. After reading this book, one will understand that even highly populated O’ahu has hidden treasures.
U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii is located on the windward side of O’ahu but might as well be on a different island and geologically may have been a separate island in its volcanic history. Its possible that even the Leatherneck denizens of the base and the peninsula, no little of the special history, the people or the culture of the Mōkapu Peninsula, known by some as the Hawaiians ‘Garden of Eden’.
Mr. Rippel, a long serving U.S. Marine, displays a deep sense of the history and beauty of this remarkable jewel on the fringe of the more widely known jewel, O’ahu. Mr. Rippel is unmatched in his depth of research addressing the geology, archaeology, history, culture and attractions on this unique Hawaiian peninsula. This depth of research reflects the passion, love and respect that, clearly, Mr. Rippel has for his subject.
Mr. Rippel’s conversational story telling style is very comfortable and invites the reader to sit back and immerse themselves into the history and culture of this tropical gem. The transitions through the cultural, political and economic aspects of this land and people is fascinating as it evolves from the arrival of the Pacific Islanders and voyagers to resident chiefs and kings and eventually the European influences helps one better understand the state of the area today.
An obvious lover of military history, Mr. Rippel uniquely captures the sensation of being under attack on the ‘Day that lives on in Infamy’. He tells this story from the viewpoint of an individual attacking Japanese pilot as well and the personal stories of many survivors who served on Fort Hase (now Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kāne’ohe Bay) during the Japanese attack. The stories are intense and intimate and rich in color rather than the dramatized versions one see in movies.
For the ardent Hawaiian visitor, the book also lays out so many reasons to visit Kāneʻohe and the Marine Corps Base including the beaches and the walks and the vistas. Mr. Rippel highlights the beauty of the area both inside and outside in a way that piques your curiosity to make the trip over the Pali Highway from Waikiki on your next visit. The birds are as beautiful as the beaches and the military museum pieces are, in a different way, just as interesting. The photographs (most taken by Mr. Rippel, a gifted photographer) and illustrations (also predominantly his) add immeasurably to the enjoyment of this treatise.
This book is strongly recommend to anyone with an interest in expanding their knowledge and, perhaps, more importantly, their enjoyment of this special part of O’ahu and its history. Kama‘aina (locals) will undoubtedly learn something they did not know, the research is that well developed. Reading this newly released book and learning more will help develop your “Aloha Spirit.” It is available on Amazon.com.