Kilauea Military Camp turns 100

| June 14, 2016 | 0 Comments
In the early days at Kilauea Military Camp, getting around by horse and cart was the normal mode of transportation. The camp was first formed on the island of Hawaii in 1916 out of 52 acres of land and is now available for retirees, service members and civilians to visit.

In the early days at Kilauea Military Camp, getting around by horse and cart was the normal mode of transportation. The camp was first formed on the island of Hawaii in 1916 out of 52 acres of land and is now available for retirees, service members and civilians to visit.

KILAUEA MILITARY CAMP
News Release
VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK — This year marks the 100th anniversary of Kilauea Military Camp, 52 historic acres of accommodations located at the edge of an active volcano that had two new lava flows and surface activity at the Kilauea Volcano’s lava lake just last week.

The above photo is one of several historical images on display at the camp from its earlier days with Soldiers standing in formation. (Courtesy of Kilauea Military Camp)

The above photo is one of several historical images on display at the camp from its earlier days with Soldiers standing in formation. (Courtesy of Kilauea Military Camp)

The camp began as a commercial venture in the summer of 1916 to build a training and recreation area for the National Guard. It now offers 90 guest cottages and apartments with one, two or three bedrooms, and a 110-bed dormitory that was packed on Memorial Day, when Army Reserve medical Soldiers and their German and British counterparts recently visited. The KMC facilities are available to military patrons, family members and their sponsored guests.

Visits to the Big Island by Soldiers and Sailors occurred as far back as the 1840s, and local leaders created a rest camp for military personnel. Unlike other military facilities, early buildings were preserved and repaired instead of being torn down.

Crater Rim Cafe

Crater Rim Cafe

“That’s the best thing about this place,” said retired Army Col. Randy Hart, director, KMC. “It doesn’t change.”

Spartan beginnings
The first permanent party for KMC was a company of infantry troops. They were expected to provide their own tents with the three original buildings. Because the business venture wasn’t profitable — the Soldiers had to ruck march a long way from the rail terminus and besides the view of the volcano, rec activities were limited to goat hunting, drill and exploration — the Army took control of KMC. It was a 10-mile hike to the camp from the end of the rail line, all uphill.

B_27_A“It’s what (is) not different … what hasn’t changed is the uniqueness of KMC,” Hart said. “The first buildings were all put up in 1916. The buildings belong to the Army and the land to the Department of Interior.”

By 1922, the tents were replaced by cottages, a post exchange, bakery, barber shop, and power and water plants. A bell tower was installed to warn of volcanic eruptions.

From 1926 to 1935, the Navy, too, built a rest and recreation camp at KMC, which was transferred to the Army’s control due to a slow resolution of a lease agreement between the Navy and the National Park Service.

Eisenhower Cabin

Eisenhower Cabin

In the 1940s, KMC served as both a camp for Japanese internment and prisoners of war. One of the visitors in 1946 was Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who stayed in a slightly larger cabin that is now decorated with pictures of the former supreme Allied commander.

Two former guests of that cottage were back to visit during the 100th anniversary, May 30.

Due to a typo on his orders in 1962, Navy veteran Charles Zink and his wife Carolyn were assigned that VIP cottage when KMC staff thought the young noncommissioned officer was a senior officer.

More than 90 cottages are parceled out over 60-plus acres of upland forest at Kilauea Military Camp.

More than 90 cottages are parceled out over 60-plus acres of upland forest at Kilauea Military Camp.

“I just had to pick up the phone by the bed in the middle of the night, and I’d have a ham sandwich in five minutes,” Zink recounted.

As the Zinks looked over the exterior of the building, the current guest, Dr. Christine Altendorf, director, Installation Management Command-Pacific, who was there to attend the Memorial Day commemoration, arrived and offered to let them see the interior again after more than five decades.

“To think, I’m walking on the same floorboards as Eisenhower,” Altendorf said.

In 1949, KMC opened its doors to all military branches. Since then, it has served more than a quarter of a million military personnel, family members and sponsored guests.

All of the camp’s cabins and several common buildings feature glass art, some crafted in the 1980s. (Photo by John Reese, Hawaii Army Weekly)

All of the camp’s cabins and several common buildings feature glass art, some crafted in the 1980s. (Photo by John Reese, Hawaii Army Weekly)

Some of the buildings and all but one of the cabins are adorned with stained glass windows. It started out with one cabin that was being renovated in the mid-1980s by local artist Beverly Jackson.

“Building these windows was a labor of love,” Jackson wrote in a 1999 description of the project.

To celebrate its centennial, the camp is featuring an array of events and promotions, including a typical 1916 dinner, period music and dancing in its club (the Lava Lounge), theater presentations, a giant birthday cake and a set of centennial coins for — what else? — $19.16.
 (Editor’s note: Additional information in this article was provided by John Reese, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.)

Remembering 100 years
To learn about upcoming events celebrating the 100th anniversary of KMC, visit www.kilaueamilitaryc amp.com.

The summit lava lake in HalemaÔumaÔu Crater was at a high level earlier in the week, and partly visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook at times. But over the past few days, the lake level has dropped slightly. Nevertheless, the activity on the surface of the lava lake has been typical of normal activity, with frequent spattering on the lake margins, as shown here. This view looks north from the rim of HalemaÔumaÔu Crater, which is closed to the public due to ongoing volcanic hazards.

The summit lava lake in HalemaÔumaÔu Crater was at a high level earlier in the week, and partly visible from the Jaggar Museum Overlook at times. But over the past few days, the lake level has dropped slightly. Nevertheless, the activity on the surface of the lava lake has been typical of normal activity, with frequent spattering on the lake margins, as shown here.

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