The ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia (as well as Kāneʻohe) includes portions of Mōkapu Peninsula. (Heʻeia runs from the mountains to the sea, but also crosses over a portion of the water in Kāneʻohe Bay and includes a portion of a Mōkapu peninsula across the Bay.) Heʻeia also includes Moku o Loʻe (Coconut Island).
The name of the land of Heʻeia is traditionally associated with Heʻeia, the handsome foster son of the goddess Haumea and grandson of the demigod ʻOlopana, who was an uncle of Kamapuaʻa.
Heʻeia was named in commemoration of a tsunami-type wave that washed Haumea and others into the sea – a great tidal wave that “washed (he‘e ‘ia) … out to sea and back” (Lit., surfed, or washed (out to sea,) or swept away.) (Devaney)
Kalo (taro) was a main staple in the diet of nearly all Hawaiians prior to European contact and was extensively cultivated. As early as 1789, Portlock described this area:
“… the bay all around has a very beautiful appearance, the low land and valleys being in high state of cultivation, and crowded with plantations of taro, sweet potatoes, sugar-cane, etc. interspersed with a great number of coconut trees ….” The region had a considerable amount of land cultivated in taro up through the early-1800s.
“Southeastward along the windward coast, beginning with Waikāne and continuing through Waiāhole, Kaʻalaea, Kahaluʻu, Heʻeia and Kāne’ohe, were broad valley bottoms and flatlands between the mountains and the sea which, taken all together, represent the most extensive wet-taro area on Oʻahu.” (Handy, Devaney)
The earliest of the modern large commercial agricultural ventures started with the cultivation of sugar cane in Kualoa in the 1860s. By 1880, three more sugar companies had emerged in Kahaluʻu, Heʻeia and Kāne’ohe. Heʻeia Sugar Company (also called Heʻeia Agricultural Co. Ltd) operated from 1878 to 1903.
In 1880, the region reported 7,000-acres available for cultivation; in 1883 a railroad was installed at Heʻeia, and by the summer of that year it was noted that the railroad had allowed a much greater amount of land to be harvested, even allowing cane from Kāneʻohe to be ground at Heʻeia; however, the commercial cultivation of sugar cane was short-lived. (Devaney)
The US military first established a presence on the Mōkapu peninsula in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order establishing Fort Kuwaʻaohe Military Reservation (the western portion of Mōkapu is within the Heʻeia ahupuaʻa.)
Today, Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi continues to serve as a fully functional operational and training base for US Marine Corps forces. The Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) here operates a 7,800-foot runway (on the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia) that can accommodate both fixed wing and rotor-driven aircraft.
With World War II underway, an encampment supporting as many as 4,500 enlisted personnel and officers comprising up to four infantry battalions with attached units of the 98th Regimental Combat Team was constructed in October 1943 at He‘eia Kea.
The He‘eia Combat Training Area was on leased or licensed land from the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, Sing Chong Company, Ltd., and numerous other smaller private land owners.
Training facilities established at He‘eia Combat Training Area included a 12-target (1,000-inch) machine gun range; an 11-target pistol range; and a 20-target (100-200-300 yard) known distance rifle range.
In addition, there were two obstacle courses; a bayonet course; dummy hand grenade courts; a live hand grenade range; an infiltration course; a shipside platform and maneuver and impact areas for jungle and assault training with the remainder of training facilities being situated at He‘eia Kea.
The impact area purportedly was established for the firing of field artillery pieces, mortar, bazooka, and other assault weapons using live and practice rounds.
Site improvements included barracks, roads, a mess hall, an open-air theater, a motor pool, ammunition storage facilities, training areas and obstacle and bayonet courses. Nearby were maneuver and impact areas for jungle and assault training.
Following the ending of hostilities on September 2, 1945, the end of WWII, the camp was dismantled, and land leases were terminated by the Army after October 8, 1945.
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