Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) Kaneohe Bay is located on the windward side of Oahu, approximately 12 miles northeast of Honolulu. The base occupies the Mokapu Peninsula which connects to the mainland near the cities of Kaneohe and Kailua. At MCBH Kaneohe bay, the headquarters provides administrative, housing, legal, logistical, morale and recreational support services. MCBH Kaneohe Bay is home to III Marine Expeditionary Forces, Hawaii, 1st Radio Battalion, and the Marine Corps Air Facility, Kaneohe Bay. The base's position in the Pacific makes it an ideal location for strategic deployment to the Far East. The base is also a leader in environmental protection, enhancement and conservation. The base has received numerous awards for its efforts, including the 1984 Secretary of Defense Environmental Quality Award and the 1992 Secretary of the Navy Natural Resources Conservation Award.
As of October 2002 the Corps was considering re-establishing a Marine Expeditionary Brigade - a medium weight fighting force that incorporates Marine ground units, helicopters and fighter-attack aircraft - at Kane'ohe Bay. Troops for the brigade would come from the base's existing 6,300 Marines plus the addition of a headquarters element of several hundred personnel. Marine attack aircraft could be attached to the unit out of bases in California. When the previous MEBs were eliminated, 36 Marine F/A-18 fighters based at Kane'ohe Bay were sent to Mainland bases. Four squadrons of CH-53 Sea Stallions, each with about 12 helicopters, are based at Kane'ohe Bay.
The main access to the base is by either highway 3 (H-3) or by Mokapu Road. Schofield Barracks or the Pearl Harbor area are reached by using Likelike Highway and Highways H-1 and H-2. Schofield Barracks is approximately 28 road miles to the west. Other training areas include Bellows Air Force Station eight miles to the south, the Kahuku Training Area approximately 33 miles to the north and Makua Military Reservation (MMR) which is 47 miles to the west. MCBH Kaneohe Bay has a 7,500 feet runway and supporting taxiways which, in addition to normal air operations, are used for access to the outer island training areas. The base also has a fuel pier and waterfront area, used for loading tank landing ships (LST's) and small boats for transporting equipment off-island.
The base consists of 2,951 acres of fee simple and ceded land. Only a portion of the area (140 acres) is used as a small arms range and impact area which is included in the DOD major training assets total. The majority of the base is located on land designated as Urban. Two sections of the base are classified conservation land which includes the Ulupau Crater area and the Nuupia Pond area. The land south of the base is used mainly for single family residences. Existing and proposed development land use in the area with conservation uses designated on the steeper slopes of the Koolau Range.
The Mokapu Peninsula consists of a large, generally flat plain having two large volcanic hills near the north shoreline. The majority of level land has been developed for runways, hangars, operational and support facilities, and housing. A large portion of the remaining level land is tidal low lands and ponds which are restricted for wildlife conservation. The topography of the two hill areas have prevented all but minor development. Two sides of the base have natural beaches; however coral beds preclude their use for amphibious training except in one narrow area at Fort Hase on the East Shore.
In 1918, Fort Hase was commissioned and was known as the Kuwaahoe Military Reservation. In 1941, Army artillery moved into the area. In 1939, the Navy constructed a small seaplane base and upon its completion, Naval Air Station Kaneohe's role was expanded to include the administration of the Kaneohe Bay Naval Defense Sea Area. On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor exploded into history. The first blow of the Japanese attack, however, was directed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay. During the attack, a Kaneohe based Sailor was cited for his heroic actions and later became one of the first Medal of Honor recipients during World War II. After the war, air station activities consisted of limited air operations, a small security detachment, and a federal communications center. In 1951, the station was proposed as an ideal site for combined air-ground team, so the Marines assumed control of the air station activities when naval aviation moved to Barbers Point Naval Air Station. On January 15, 1952 Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay was commissioned.
On April 15, 1994, the Marine Corps consolidated all of its installations in Hawaii. MCAS Kaneohe Bay joined Camp H.M. Smith, Molokai Training Support Facility, Manana Family Housing Area, Puuloa Range and the Pearl City Warehouse Annex to form a new command, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, headquartered at MCBH Kaneohe Bay. Located on Oahu's Mokapu Peninsula, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay is home to more than 15,000 Marines, Sailors, family members and civilian employees.
The diverse background of what is known today as Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii includes a Hawaiian heritage filled with myths and legends, the Army and Navy, as well as the Marine Corps. For over 49 years the base has trained countless carrier pilots for combat, provided logistical support for naval aviation forces throughout the Pacific, and supported airborne early warning and antisubmarine patrol operations. MCAF Kaneohe Bay is located on the Mokapu Peninsula, which is found on the Northeastern coast of the island of Oahu.
The peninsula, inhabited since the 13th century, was originally valued by the Hawaiian royalty who owned it as one of the most productive agricultural areas in all of the islands. The military history of the peninsula began in 1918.
The US Army acquired 322 acres of the peninsula when President Woodrow Wilson signed executive order 2900 establishing the Kuwaaohe Military Reservation. Little is known about the operations of the fort, however, at the end of World War I, the military property was leased for ranching. In 1939, Kuwaaohe was reactivated, subjected to many name changes to include Camp Ulupa'u, and eventually named Fort Hase.
Prior to and during World War II, Fort Hase grew from a humble beginning as a defense battalion to a major unit of the Windward Costal Artillery Command. Navy planners began to eye the peninsula in 1939 as the home of a strategic seaplane base. They liked the isolated location, the flat plains for an airfield and the probability of flights into prevailing trade winds. In 1939, the Navy acquired 464 acres of the peninsula for use of the PBY Catalina Patrol seaplanes for long-range reconnaissance flights. One year later, the Navy owned all of the Mokapu Peninsula except for Fort Hase.
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the air station minutes prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Of the 36 Catalinas stationed here, 27 were destroyed and six others were damaged, along with 18 sailors who perished in the attack. The first Japanese aircraft destroyed in action were shot down at Kaneohe, along with Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer John Finn being awarded one of the 1st Medals of Honor for valor on that day.
During the war, the air station was a major training base in the Pacific theater. The Fleet Gunnery School trained thousands of Navy gunners. There was a school for celestial navigation, sonar, aircraft recognition, and turret operations. Flight instructors also trained Navy and Marine Corps aviators in flight operations prior to being sent to a forward combat area. Following the war, Fort Hase had become a skeleton outpost and the air station consisted of limited air operations, a small security detachment, and a federal communications center.
In 1949, the Navy decommissioned the air station. On January 15, 1952 the Marine Corps re-commissioned the idle airfield Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, making it an ideal training site for a combined air/ground team. Station Operations and Headquarters Squadron supported flight operations until June 30, 1972, when Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron was commissioned in its place. SOMS served until it was disbanded on July 30, 1994. Marine Corps Air Facility, Kaneohe Bay was formed on that date and continues today to serve the operational needs of the aviation community.
Following the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Committee's decision to close NAS Barbers Point, the base acquired 4 Navy P-3 patrol squadrons and one SH-60 Anti-Submarine squadron in 1999. Today there are almost 10,000 active duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel attached to the base, demonstrating on a daily basis the finest blue/green team in action found nowhere else in the world.
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