Born in Paʻauhau on the Hāmākua Coast of the Island of Hawaiʻi, on May 5, 1885, Albert Kualiʻi Brickwood Lyman was the 13th-son of Rufus Anderson and Rebecca Hualani (Ahung) Lyman, who was the fifth child of the Rev and Mrs David Belden Lyman, missionaries who came to Hawaiʻi in 1832.
Lyman attended Kamehameha School for Boys and graduated from Punahou School in 1906. Lyman was one of three brothers to attend West Point (Clarence and Charles;) each was appointed to West Point by Prince Jonah Kūhio Kalanianaʻole.
In 1909, Lyman, nicknamed “Queen Lil” from his brother, Clarence, who preceded him there, graduated from West Point ranked 15th in his class of 103 – classmate George S Patton, Jr was ranked 46th.
His early Army years were spent in various parts of the continent and abroad (with a short stint in the Islands, including construction work at “Little Shafter” and military engineering in all parts of the Island.) He had 25-assignments in 12-states and 4-overseas posts (Panama, France, Cuba and Philippines.)
In 1922, Major Lyman was assigned to duty in Havana, Cuba, where he served as military attaché. From Cuba, Major Lyman returned to Washington, DC where he was in charge of the military intelligence information bureau.
Previously serving at Schofield Barracks as a junior officer (1913-1916,) he returned there in May 1940, where as a full colonel he was commanding officer of the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion.
On March 13, 1942, Lyman was named Hawaiian Department engineer, an important post in connection with the building of island defenses.
All Engineer operations within the Hawaiian Department were under his direction. Fortifications were rushed to completion; new airfields were built in record time; while, at the same time, distant and far-flung Pacific Islands were rapidly converted into military bases.
On August 11, 1942, Lyman was the first native Hawaiian (and Asian, he was also part-Chinese) to attain the rank of general or admiral in the US Armed Forces. He died suddenly of a heart attack on August 13, 1942, two days after his promotion.
(The nomination was before the Senate for confirmation at the time General Lyman was stricken. The War Department decided to issue the officer’s commission to brigadier generalship dated prior to his death.)
On October 20, 1942, Brigadier General Lyman was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal “For exceptionally meritorious service in a position of great responsibility.”
“As Department Engineer, Hawaiian Department, from July 9, 1940 to August 12, 1942, he was responsible for the planning and construction of projects totaling many millions of dollars.”
“He displayed exceptional organizing ability, excellent judgment, and a superior quality of leadership in the handling of military and civilian construction forces engaged in that work, resulting in finishing many of the necessary defense projects far in advance of the anticipated completion dates.”
“His untiring effort, unceasing devotion to duty, and inspiring leadership in the execution of seemingly impossible tasks were of great value to the Army.”
On April 19, 1943, by Joint Resolution, the Hawaiʻi Territorial legislature changed the name of Hilo Airport to General Lyman Field.
(In 1989, the airport’s name was changed to Hilo International Airport and the main passenger terminal was named for General Lyman. The terminal was rededicated to Lyman on September 29, 1993.) (Lots of information here is from West Point, Army Corps and hawaii-gov.)