“Navy officials said they received a garbled radio message early today, purported to have been sent by Amelia Earhart, which indicated her plane was sinking.”
“The message received by three navy operators was pieced together as follows: ‘281 north Howland call KHAQQ beyond north won’t hold with us much longer above water shut off.’”
“The operators said keying of the message was poor and they were able only to pick up the fragments of it was received between 4:30 am and 5:30 am Pacific coast time.” (Bakersfield Californian, July 5, 1937)
Reanalysis of the credible post-loss signals supports the hypothesis that they were sent by Earhart’s Electra from a point on the reef at Nikumaroro, about a quarter-mile north of the shipwreck of the British freighter SS Norwich City. (NBC)
The signal was picked up by radiomen at the US Naval Radio Station in Wailupe, O‘ahu.
“The Navy purchased a piece of land at Wailupe for the temporary station and it was very temporary as plans were in the making for a permanent station at Wailupe.”
The temporary station at Wailupe was built around the first part of 1919 and personnel moved there to allow the Kahuku and Koko Head stations to be remodeled. Almost the entire crew of operators at Koko Head was sent to Wailupe.
“There were three booths, more like chicken coops, scattered on the beach. Each booth, of crude construction, had room for two circuits. The roofs leaked and some of the operators had to sit under an umbrella suspended from the ceiling to keep water off the equipment.”
“We stood a three section watch, seven days a week, no rotation of watches, no days off. Straight 8 on and 16 off, and that’s the way it was at the start of NPM (long distance radio station at Pearl Harbor) at Wailupe as a Government and commercial traffic station.” (Phelps)
The station was completed early in 1921. It was a rectangular, one story building on pilings out over the water to provide more land space for the proposed officer’s quarters, two duplex quarters and the single men’s barracks.
The building was divided into compartments or booths, seven on each side separated by a hallway extending the full length of the building. The wireroom had Morse code landline circuits to the Old Naval Station in Honolulu (HU) for transmission of commercial, other government department traffic and press news dispatches for the Honolulu newspapers
One additional set of duplex quarters was built between the two original duplexes. A tennis court, swimming pool and recreation building had been constructed. A diversity receiving station had been built on the hill behind the quarters.
Facilities at Wailupe in 1939 were meager, and an entirely new receiving and control station was under construction. At Wailupe in December 1941 there were seventy-six men operating twelve positions to receive and send naval dispatches.
After the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy realized that the station at Wailupe on the seacoast was very vulnerable to attack.
So, on the morning of December 10, 1941, the District Communication Officer decided to have all radio equipment at Wailupe moved to Wahiawa.
(Wahiawa was originally established in 1940 as a temporary Naval Radio Station and Naval Radio Direction Finder Station, but the need to expand receiving facilities and to separate transmitting and receiving facilities forced expansion at NCTAMS PAC Wahiawa.)
The Wahiawa site was an excellent receiving area arid the best protected radio station of the entire district. Relocation was completed on December 17 without interruption of communications. (Todd)
With the outbreak of World War II, the Coast Guard established a Training Station in early spring 1942 at the former Naval Radio Station at Wailupe. One of the most important schools at the Training Station was the 16-week Radioman School.
There were approximately 20 students per class, with the first class beginning in March 1942. In November 1943, the Coast Guard assumed control of all inter-island communications for the Navy. As a result of the increased traffic, a new primary radio station was constructed on the site of the Wailupe Training Station.
However, the Coast Guard felt “the site of the present District primary radio station at Wailupe is far from satisfactory because of lack of space and the character of the terrain which prevents the proper separation of transmitting and receiving antenna systems.”
During the period of September – October 1958, the receiver site and administrative spaces were moved to Wahiawa. (Coast Guard)
Eventually, the area makai of Kalanianaʻole Highway was transferred and is now Wailupe Beach Park; the Coast Guard maintains housing and recreational facilities, mauka of the highway. (Lots of information and images here are from Phelps, Todd and virhistory-com.)