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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Military / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:74
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781098341268

Day of Infamy - Pearl Harbor Day - The Ni'ihau Incident

by William Stricklin

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"The Niʻihau Incident" occurred December 7–13, 1941, when Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi (西開地 重徳, Nishikaichi Shigenori) crash-landed his Zero on the Hawai'ian island of Niʻihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Imperial Japanese Navy had designated Niʻihau as an uninhabited island for damaged aircraft to land and await rescue. The pilot shared information about the Pearl Harbor attack with island locals of Japanese descent. Native Hawai'ian residents were initially unaware of the Pearl Harbor attack, but apprehended Nishikaichi when the gravity of the situation became apparent. The pilot then sought and received the assistance of the three Hawai'ian locals of Japanese descent on the island in overcoming his captors, finding weapons, and taking several hostages. Eventually, Nishikaichi was killed when he was lifted upside down and his head was smashed into the rocks by 6'8" Niihauans Benehakaka "Ben" Kanahele after firing three bullets into Ben's groin. My Hawaiian language teacher knew Ben's wife Kealoha "Ella" Kanahele who yelled at the pilot and flailed on him with her arms. Ella had never missed a chow line on the Robinson plantation and had the magnificent body of a heavyweight wrestler, well able to hold her own with her 6' 8" husband Ben. When Nishikaichi pulled his pistol out of his boot, Ella Kanahele grabbed his arm and brought it down. One of Nishikaichi's supporters, Yoshio Harada, committed suicide. Ben Kanahele was decorated for his part in stopping the takeover. His husky wife, Ella Kanahele, equally deserving, received no official recognition whatsoever for her important role in stopping the takeover. My teacher told me Ella took the slight in stride and told her at the time: "Whatever Native Hawai'ian women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult."
Bill Stricklin studied engineering at home in Seattle after work, reading US Army manuals to learn about the materials needed for the construction of major office buildings. Children in the neighborhood called him "the man in the window" nearly always visible at his desk studying when children got out of bed to go to the bathroom. Bill was offered a minority position of ownership if he would uproot his family and move to Hawai'i to become Project Manager in order to construct two twenty story office buildings, 900-car garage and 15,000 square feet of commercial area. Ultimately he would oversee the work of roughly 400 men and women to build a successful project. Bill arrived to discover there was a 1968 building boom in Honolulu, with nearly everyone working and few men and women available for him to hire. Reasoning that wet concrete is poured into wooden forms that are constructed by carpenters, so early every morning his 1959 Plymouth convertible Bill followed ready-mix concrete trucks to their destinations, made friends with the leader of the thirty workers at the job, asked what he and they were being paid and offered them more money and a free truck. One morning the ready-mix truck Bill followed arrived at a three-story walkup jobsite on Wilder Avenue. The job neared completion, and there were roughly thirty hard-working individuals under the supervision of Gilbert Nomura. Bill offered Gilbert a free pickup truck and rock-star rewards if Gilbert would bring all his thirty men to work on Amfac Center. Wisely Bill's company did not join the local Contractor's Association. When unions went on strike Bill was the first one to walk into the union offices to sign whatever terms were demanded. The Association resisted the union demands and their projects in downtown stopped. Bill did not violate a Contractor's Association agreement, for he had chosen not to be a member. Thus, it was possible to compete very aggressively, with all the workers Bill needed – including even the union president and business agent – in order to finish the first tower, Amfac Building, in eleven months and four days, and then to start the second tower, Hawai'i Building, two years ahead of schedule, signing office leases and commercial space leases to fill the entire project while the Contractor's Association competing projects were in the doldrums. Gilbert Nomura's Wilder Avenue jobsite afforded little opportunity to conduct in-depth interviewing during which Bill perhaps might have learned more about Gilbert Nomura's family. Gilbert's construction workers all were of Japanese ancestry. No Hawai'ians, no Chinese, no haoles, no diversity. Gilbert Nomura's family in Japan included Japan's Ambassador Kichisaburō Nomura. 野村 吉三郎 Nomura Kichisaburō December 16, 1877 – May 8, 1964 was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and was Ambassador to the United States of America in 1941 at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ambassador Nomura served with Saburō Kurusu (来栖 三郎, Kurusu Saburō, March 6, 1886 – April 7, 1954) who was a Japanese career diplomat. Saburō Kurusu is remembered as an envoy who tried to negotiate peace and understanding with the United States while the Japanese government under Hideki Tojo was secretly preparing the Pearl Harbor attack. As Imperial Japan's ambassador to Germany 1939 to November 1941, Saburō Kurusu signed the Tripartite Pact on behalf of Japan along with foreign ministers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on September 27, 1940. Gilbert Nomura's family in Japan included Naokuni Nomura 野村 直邦, an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy who served as Navy Minister in the 1940s. Family ties led to loading Gilbert into a truck early December 8, 1941, for rough interrogation which left some lasting unfortunate marks on Gilbert's "attitude" toward haoles. At age 79 my helpful friend, Gilbert Nomura, died at home Wednesday, March 4, 1998.
About the author
Bill Stricklin is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar who earned his AB with honors Phi Beta Kappa at University of California, Berkeley. He was elected President of the University of California's Young Republicans, elected Cal student body president and selected as the outstanding cadet of the United States Army ROTC program at UC Berkeley, trained at Fort Lewis; Infantry Officer Training School, Fort Benning, Georgia; Cold War spy-craft Counterintelligence cloak-and-dagger training at Fort Holabird, serving six years active and reserve, followed by a doctor of laws JD degree at Harvard Law School. After his graduation from Harvard Law School in 1964 Bill practiced law at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, San Francisco. Evenings Bill commuted to University of California Berkeley to study Japanese. Bill's trip to Japan followed during which he spoke in honorific Japanese to then-Crown Prince Akihito and then-Princess Michiko as Rotary International's guest. Pay was low, $7,200 per year. With law school student loans to repay and a family to support, temptations led Bill to accept a position at $35,000 per year with vague promises of "a piece of the action" in multi-million dollar construction projects. After a couple of years Bill accepted an offer to become Project Manager for the final work on the sixteen-story Insurance Center in San Francisco and Project Manager for the eleven-story Denny Building in Seattle Washington. In Honolulu Bill was project manager and minority owner of the twin twenty-story Amfac Center and later Bill practiced law there at Rush, Moore, Craven, Kim & Stricklin. In the evenings after his work, with the Governor's wife Beatrice Burns Bill studied the Hawai'ian language taught by a resident of the Island of Niʻihau who told Bill about the Niʻihau incident she had observed as a child which occurred in early Sunday morning December 7, 1941, through Saturday, December 13, 1941: Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi 西開地 重徳crash-landed his Zero fighter monoplane on the Hawai'ian island of Niʻihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Bill's Hawai'ian language teacher's childhood observations are included here at Stave One. More tales follow in this book based on Bill's observations related to Pearl Harbor while living in Hawai'i.

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