Ewa Field in Kalaeloa heading for historic register

Updated: Dec. 4, 2015 at 11:57 PM HST
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KALAELOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It may not look like much.

But a field in Kalaeloa that was once the site of Marine Corps Air Station has history etched into the concrete, says historian Ross Stephenson.

Back in 1941, fighter pilots trained there. And it was one of the first targets for Japanese planes during the December 7 attack. Four Marines and two civilians were killed; 13 Marines were wounded.

"You can see the strafe patterns on the concrete there and you can even identify the type of attacking aircraft that were used to destroy the American planes," Stephenson said.

Hunt Companies leases the 140 acres from the Navy, and wanted to put solar, renewable energy projects and homes on the site.

But a state board's plan has altered Hunt's plans: The airfield and surrounding land will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hunt Companies Hawaii president Steve Colon said original plans included businesses and parks.

Now, he said, "not knowing what we can do would make us reluctant to want to propose anything."

The historic register designation, though, could lead to federal funding for restoration and public viewing.

That's what Stephenson is hoping for.

"Going on the National Register of Historic Places gives official government recognition of the importance of the site culturally and historically," he said.

For his port, Colon doesn't believe all 140 acres qualify for federal protection.

He served in the Navy, and agrees historical events happened on the property, but said the sweeping designation doesn't make sense.

"There just weren't structures that were attached to these areas. It just for the most part seemed to be what you see around here, which is effectively some pretty fallow land," he said.

The National Park Service is expected to make the official announcement on Ewa Field next year.

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