Parker Ranch & Camp Tarawa

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1943 - 1945

     This monument honors the V Amphibious Corps (VAC), and the late Richard Smart, owner of the Parker Ranch during World War II.  It also honors the residents of Kamuela and the Big Island of Hawaii, hosts to Soldiers, Sailors, and more than 50,000 U.S. Marines over the duration of the war years.  During the month of August and September of 1943, the VAC was organized in California, and then Hawaii, to prepare for joint Army, Navy and Marine Corps amphibious campaigns in the Pacific.  By this time, plans were underway to build on Parker Ranch what was to become the largest Marine training facility in the Pacific.  It would include extensive training areas, a tent city, and a dam (with reservoirs) above Kamuela.  This camp, later known as Camp Tarawa, was built with the assistance of U.S. Engineers, Navy Seabees, Marines and local residence.  The public school and local hotel served as an Army hospital.  Residents welcomed military personnel into their homes and supported them through Red Cross and USO activities.

     Following the successful invasion of Tarawa, the first component of VAC, the 2d Marine Division, arrived in early December, 1943.  As the 2d Marine Division departed for Saipan in the spring of 1944, following recuperation and refitting, Camp Tarawa then hosted units of the V Amphibious Corps Artillery.  Here, these units prepared to support VAC campaigns in the Pacific.  During the summer of 1944, the 5th Marine Division, another component of the VAC, arrived to prepare for the assault on Iwo Jima.  During September, some units of the VAC Artillery departed for the invasion of Leyte.  In early 1945 following the departure of the 5th Marine Division, the remaining units of the Corps Artillery departed for Guam.
     Parker Ranch and the residents of the Big Island of Hawaii contributed immeasurably to victory and peace in the Pacific Camp Tarawa was dismantled in 1946 and 1947.