American entry into World War II necessitated a rapid expansion of facilities in dealing with enemy prisoners. Civilian Conservation Corps camps were secured to house the first arrivals; more camps were constructed throughout the war. Of the 50,000 Italian captured soldiers and sailors, 5,000 Italian prisoners of war were sent to Hawaiʻi; Japanese Americans were also incarcerated in at least eight locations on Hawaiʻi. On December 8, 1941, the first detention camp was set up on Sand Island.
The Sand Island Detention Center held war captives as well as civilians of Japanese, German or Italian ancestry who were under investigation. Another prisoner of war facility was in Hilo; it was in Ponahawai, up Kaumana Drive. During WWII the Army’s 27th Infantry division was housed and trained on the property. Later, the Marines were stationed there and Japanese prisoners of war were confined there. The camp became known as Camp POW. After the war, the camp buildings were converted into rental properties. For safety reasons the buildings were eventually demolished in the 1980s. (Many of the photos in the album are from Raymond W McCracken’s son’s post on flickr.)