Neighborhood board opposes Marines landing at Makua

Board opposes Marines landing at Makua

Residents speak out against a military exercise at that beach

By Harold Morse

After hearing emotional discussion, the Waianae Neighborhood Board voted 13-0 last night to oppose an amphibious landing of Marines at Makua Beach.

The landing, involving about 590 California Marines, would take place as part of a Makua Valley training exercise Sept. 4 through 8, said Capt. John Milliman, public affairs officer, Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe.

Plans are to have five large air cushion landing craft land Marines and vehicles, he said. Vehicles that would cross the beach include 17 light amphibious types, 12 five-ton trucks, 35 Humvees and 12 amphibious assault vehicles, he said.

Many people at the meeting said Makua is special, sacred and spiritual to Hawaiians, and while they acknowledged the need for military training, they also asked for respect for Hawaiian sensitivities regarding Makua.

“Do I run over your church for expediency’s sake?” asked Frenchy DeSoto.

Board member Kennard Hicks criticized the state for permitting the military to remain in the valley, where a firing range is operated by the Army.

“I object to the military using Makua,” he said.

“It’s morally wrong for the military to bomb the sacred place of Makua,” said Board member Glen Kila. “There are alternatives, viable alternatives to Makua.”

Charles Herrman of Nanakuli agreed.

“I see no way possible that we should allow this to happen on our Makua Beach. Makua is too sacred.”

“When is it going to end?” asked Gary Velleses of Waianae. “I don’t speak against the military. I just speak for the Hawaiians.”

But Duke Hamilton of Maili played down the spiritual argument about Makua, saying the service members need training.

“What’s spiritual is to look into their eyes when they’re dying,” Hamilton said. “I’ve trained all over the world. I’ve carried my Hawaiian flag all over the world. I like to believe that I come from a line of warriors from Hawaii.”

Milliman said the September exercise would sharpen the Marines’ edge for possible peacekeeping and humanitarian relief efforts at points west of Hawaii.

The Makua area, he said, provides an opportunity for training in terrain that differs from California’s Camp Pendleton. Midway is inappropriate for training because it’s a wildlife sanctuary, and Guam does not have a training area appropriate for the type of training needed, he said.

Milliman said he was at the meeting so he could relay community concerns back to the Marine Corps. “No final decision has been made.”

He said alternatives are unfavorable, such as landing at Bellows Beach and convoying all the Marines and vehicles across Oahu.


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