The Marines’ Decision to Tear Down an Important WWII-Era Aircraft Hangar Sparks Outrage

Another battle between history and modern technology rears its ugly head. This time, the focus is on an aircraft hangar at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where a great act of World War II heroism took place in relation to the Pearl Harbor attack. Now, the Marines want to demolish it, in order to make room for drones and air refueling aircraft.
The Marines want to tear down a historic aircraft hangar the Kaneohe site 8 photos
Photo: Photo by Cpl. Patrick King/Marine Corps Base Hawaii
2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show2022 Kaneohe Bay Air ShowNaval Air Station, Kaneohe BayNaval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay
The Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe should be considered fortunate for being located on a site with such a rich history. Unfortunately, the WWII buildings and facilities are getting in the way of modernization and expansion.

The Marines have already demolished several of them throughout the years, but the latest decision of this kind caused a strong reaction among historians. That’s because it includes Hangar 103, known as Hangar 2 during the WWII.

This hangar housed the only aircraft at the Kaneohe base that survived during the Japanese raid that took the base by surprise shortly before the infamous strike on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941.

While Hangar 1 and the aircraft inside were completely destroyed by bombs, the only other hangar on the base, with a Catalina flying boat inside, survived thanks to the heroic efforts of Navy sailor John Finn, who fired at the Japanese aircraft on his own. Luckily, he also survived, and Hangar 2 became a symbol of heroism on what is believed to be the first military base on American soil that was attacked by the Japanese.

According to Civil Beat, the Marines are now looking to wipe down this historic building to make room for a new fleet of drones (MQ-9s) and air refueling aircraft (KC-130s). There’s no other way, apparently, because of the limited space on the peninsula.

On the other hand, historians are outraged. “Why would you take down our military history?” said Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the National Park Service’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial, quoted by Civil Beat, while historian J. Michael Wenger calls it “an absolute disaster.” Even the Historic Hawaii Foundation has directly asked the Marine Corps to not go further with the demolition plans.

Even though officials seem determined to go ahead with the demolition plans, the deadline for public comments on the draft environmental assessment that includes the fate of Hangar 2, was extended until September 21, 2022.
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Editor's note: Gallery showing images from the 2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show

About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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