Native Hawaiian Veterans: David Akui

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David M. Akui (January 16, 1920 – September 15, 1987) was a Native Hawaiian soldier who became famous for capturing the first Japanese prisoner of war in World War II. At the time, Akui was a corporal in Company G, 298th Infantry Regiment of the Hawa’ii National Guard. Akui served through the remainder of World war II and was a member of the famed “Merrill’s Marauders”, who fought the Japanese in the jungles of Burma. He retired from the United States Army as a master sergeant and spent the rest of his life in Hawai’i.

Native Hawaiian Veterans: Herbert Kailieha Pililaʻau

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Herbert Kailieha Pililaʻau (October 10, 1928 – September 17, 1951) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Korean War. Pilila’au was born and raised in Wai’anae, Oʻahu and graduated from Waipahu High School. He was drafted into the military during World War II and stayed in the US military after the war. He was sent to Korea in early 1951, he participated as an automatic rifleman in the Battle of Bloody Ridge. During the subsequent Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, he voluntarily stayed behind to cover his unit’s withdrawal in the face of an intense attack by North Korean forces. Alone, he held off the assault using his automatic rifle and hand grenades and, after exhausting all available ammunition, engaged the attackers in hand to hand combat until being overrun and killed. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

In January 2000 in New Orleans, the United States Navy christened a Military Sealift Command cargo ship, the USNS Pililaau (T-AKR-304), in his honor. A state park is also named after him.

Native Hawaiian Veterans: George Humehume

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George Humehume Kaumuali’i was born in the late 1790s with the name Humehume. His father was King Kaumualiʻi, the ruler of the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. He was also the granduncle of Queen Kapi’olani. In January 1804 the American trading ship Hazard arrived at Kauaʻi. King Kaumualiʻi paid Captain James Rowan of the American trading ship Hazard to take his son aboard, ostensibly to get an education in America. The ship crossed the Pacific to China, then to Indonesia, India, Africa and to New England. Humehume thus became one of the first documented Native Hawaiians to travel around the world. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to the USS Wasp during the War of 1812. The Wasp left port in May 1814, and over the next two months was involved in several naval battles in the English Channel. In a June 28 battle with the HMS Reindeer he was injured, and came ashore in L’Orient, France.

He returned and was given a medical discharge. On June 21, 1815, he was able to re-enlist in the U.S. Navy, and sailed to the Mediterranean on the USS Enterprise fighting in the Second Barbary War. His service records show the name “George Prince”. The U.S. Navy at this point claimed that George had not been properly discharged, so proposed sending him to West Point Military Academy. He was encouraged to do so by prominent American politicians of the era. The missionaries thought it would be helpful to them if he went, but George did not want to go to West Point. George’s letter to his father was published, and when Samuel Cotting read it, he wanted to cash in on the celebrity by claiming he was owed money for the boy’s care. George, basking in the attention, wrote a furious letter complaining about Cotting’s treatment. Among the insults: “If I am worthy of the title of a Prince I am not going to be trodden under foot by such a dirty scoundrel as you are.”. On May 1, 1817 the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut opened its first term with George and the other Hawaiians as students. By the next term there were twelve students including Indians from Bengal and Calcutta, and a native American Indian. Humehume eventually returned back to Hawai’i with the first batch of Calvinist missionaries in 1820 and helped to convert Kaua’i to Christianity.

In 1824, he rebelled against King Kamehameha II and tried to make Kaua’i independent again but failed. This was the last major rebellion by Hawaiians against the new unified Hawaiian Kingdom. After some months, Humehume was captured and brought into exile to Honolulu. Other members of the Kaua’i royal family were also brought into exile on O’ahu and were encouraged to marry into pro-Kamehameha II Maui and Hawai’i ali’i. He died of influenza on May 3, 1826 and was buried in an unmarked grave

Native Hawaiian Veterans: Major Matthew Dewar of the British Army

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Major Matthew James Manuia Dewar was born on August 8, 1890.He was the son of Dr. Matthew Everard Puakahakoililanimanuia Makalua, a Hawaiian who was sent to England for medical studies by King Kalākaua, and Annie Clementina Dewar, an English woman.

Major Matthew James Manuia Dewar married Marjorie Harriet Beaman, daughter of British Surgeon-General Ardern Hulme Beaman in 1915.

He was given the name of Matthew James Manuia Makalua at birth. He was educated at Oratory School, Woodcote, Edgbaston, Warwickshire, England. His father, Dr. Makalua, was the first Native Hawaiian documented to study Western medicine and to be a surgeon. Dr. Makalua originally had planned to return to Hawai’i around 1896 but ended up refusing to return to Hawai’i after “US annexation” as he felt he no longer had a country to return to. Matthew James Manuia Makalua ended up changing his name to Matthew James Manuia Dewar as his mother’s side had no males carrying the last name and to avoid discrimination.

Matthew James Manuia Dewar rose through the ranks of the British army and gained the rank of Major in the Royal Sussex Regiment. He is the first non-royal Native Hawaiian documented to have gained such a high rank. He fought in the First World War, where he was wounded in 1916 while defending a French town from the Germans. He was awarded the French military medal of Croix de Guerre Avec Palmes. For his bravery, he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 1919. He fought in the Second World War, with the Royal Engineers and was again given awards. He passed away in 1952. He was one of the most highly decorated Native Hawaiians soldiers.
(pictured above is Dr. Makalua)