Christmas through the years

By Dave Hilkert on December 24, 2009 12:00pm

Christmas and the Holiday Season has always been a very special time for Fort Shafter Soldiers, their families and civilians. Although many of them were separated from their loved ones and far from home, the photos depicted here show how they have continued to enjoy the friendship and camaraderie among fellow Soldiers and their Ohana here in Hawaii. This sampling of Christmas at Fort Shafter dates from 1918 through 2009.

Fort Shafter Soldiers at tables and standing pose for a camera at their Christmas dinner in 1918.   Soldiers of the 9th Signal Service Company, Fort Shafter, celebrate the Christmas Season, December 1936.  (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii)   Early Christmas shopping at the Fort Shafter Post Exchange, November 30, 1948.  (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii)   Fort Shafter Soldiers and women of the Army's Special Services Division gather around the piano at the Enlisted Men's Club to sing some Christmas music, December 7, 1950.  (U.S. Army Signal Corps photo)   A scene of Christmas carolers and Santa Claus' reindeer at Fort Shafter, December 1958 (Courtesy of Mr. Neil Knight, once assigned to the 524th Military Police Company, Fort Shafter)

A Nativity scene adds to the celebration of Christmas near the old 1942 Fort Shafter chapel, December 1958.  (Courtesyof Mr. Neil Knight)   Specialist Four Enid (Damaso) Gooch stands next to a display of Santa and his reindeer pulling a tank on Palm Circle, Fort Shafter.  Taken December 1959.  Specialist Gooch was a Soldier in the Women's Army Corps Detachment assigned to U.S. Army, Pacific. (Courtesy of Mrs. Enid Gooch)   The NCO Club is decorated for the Christmas Holidays, December 1959.  This building today serves as a Youth center.  (Courtesy of Mrs. Enid Gooch)   Fort Shafter Soldiers, family members, and civilians enjoy the festivities at Palm Circle, Fort Shafter during the tree lighting ceremony during the post's 2007 centennial celebration.

Brig. Gen. John Seward, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific, and Makaliah Billings, Fort Shafter Elementary School student council president, light the Christmas tree during the 2008 holiday ceremony at Fort Shafter's Hale Ikena.  (Photo by Sgt. Maj. Terry Anderson, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs)

  World War II Comes to Fort Shafter

By Dave Hilkert on December 8, 2009 1:32pm

On December 7, 2009, our Nation commemorated the 68th Anniversary of the Day of Infamy, which thrust America into World War II. At Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where veterans of the USS Oklahoma, Utah, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and other ships of the Pacific Fleet remembered their participation on that fateful day. At Kaneohe Marine Base, 100 year-old Lieutenant John Finn, surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor for his role in defending Kaneohe (then a Naval Air Base) with a .50 caliber machine gun, received honors. As part of a larger effort to preserve Ewa Field, the site of Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, a commemoration ceremony was held Dec. 6th.

Fort Shafter sustained only very minor damages during the Japanese attack on Oahu. It did not suffer the enormous loss of life of Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field and other military installations on the island. The post still served an important role as the Army’s headquarters for defending the Hawaiian Islands.  

To learn more about Fort Shafter on December 7, 1941, click here.

1. SGT William P. Garrett at Fort Shafter  2. Damage to barracks, Battery E, 64th Coast Artillery ca. 1941  3. Recruits training at Fort Shafter with outdated 1903 Springfield rifles, ca. 1941 (Courtesy Clarence Lane, Fort Shafter veteran)   4. CPL Arthur Favreau



  A Passion for History

By Dave Hilkert on October 21, 2009 8:05am

Fort Shafter is now more than a century old. It has played a huge role in our national defense and has many stories of Soldiers and civilians serving our Nation across those 100 years. Set in a beautiful paradise, those of us who have the honor to serve at Fort Shafter have had a close relationship with our community from the earliest days of our history, and there are many stories about our ties here in the Pacific.

As the historian for USARPAC, it is a great thrill to learn of so many of these wonderful stories of the Army’s past at Fort Shafter. With so many deployments in today’s Army, we sometimes wonder what Soldier’s life was life like long ago. From the many stories of Fort Shafter, we catch a glimpse of that life across the years. Technology is different now, the uniforms of Soldiers are different, the unit names and missions are changed (although with some similarities) and many buildings from our history are gone with new ones in their place. The Soldiers who served long ago, however, are no different from those who serve at Fort Shafter today.   Read more...

1. Fort Shafter Post Flag located at Pam Circle (ca. July 1908 - July 1912 -- note the 46-star flag.)
  2. Palm Circle (ca. 1909)  3. Inspection at Palm Circle, Fort Shafter (ca. 1913-16)  4. Mules and Wagons at Palm Circle, Field Company E, Signal Corps (ca. 1913)  5. Field Inspection of E Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, Palm Circle, Fort Shafter (ca. 1917-21)