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Niihau

The westernmost of the Hawiian Islands of significant size is Niihau. In 1941 it was almost entirely a single property, a ranch owned by the Robinson family, and worked by some 200 native Hawaiians who spoke only their own language. In the Hawaiian Operation the Japanese stationed one of the submarines of the Sixth Fleet, I-4, offshore to pick up emergency landed airmen. One such did land there, Aviation Petty Officer First Class Shinenori Nishikaichi of 4th Fighter Combat Unit. He was rescued by Howard Kaleohano who confiscated his pistol and papers, but treated him kindly and took him home to be given a meal. Then news of the attack on Pearl Harbor came through. There were three Japanese people on the island and the pilot was treated as a prisoner, but lodged with them. Meanwhile attempts to report the situation to the authorities on the neighboring island of Kauai were frustrated. Then Nishikaichi escaped with the help of one of the Japanese and obtained firearms. Kaleohano and five others went for help at 1230 on Saturday 13 December. Meanwhile the pilot and his accomplice took Ben and Ella Kanahele hostage, but they bided their time and took a chance to overpower Nishikaichi. Ben was wounded, but he and his wife killed the pilot and his accomplice committed suicide. At 1800 on 13 December Lieutenant Jack Mizuha, a Japanese-American officer of the 299th Regiment, Hawaiian National Guard, with 13 men and Kaleohano's party, as well as Aylmer Robinson, set out from Kauai for Niihau. They arrested the other two Japanese on the island. Ben Kanahele was awarded the Medal of Merit and the Purple Heart and Howard Kaleohano the Medal of Freedom. Jack Mizuha distinguished himself in Italy in the war and became a judge of the Hawaiian state supreme court. Ella Kanahele got nothing except her husband's survival.

See also: 4th Fighter Combat Unit; Hawaiian Islands; Hawaiian Operation; Japanese-American; Pearl Harbor