“Hawaii is our home; the United States our country. We know but one loyalty and this is to the Stars and Stripes. We wish to do our part to do our part as loyal Americans in every way possible, and we hereby offer ourselves for whatever service you may see fit to use us.”
Their request was granted and they were organized as the Varsity Victory Volunteers group working for the Army as members of a labor unit under the US Army Corps of Engineers. Many Nisei volunteered for and served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe.
During the years following WWII, through 1960, it was generally assumed by members of the Department of Military Science that the Army ROTC unit at UH was entitled to battle honors as a result of its active duty participation during the period 7 December 1941 until 21 January 1941. The basis for this assumption was General Order 56, US Armed Forces, Central Pacific Area, dated 23 February 1944. An investigation, which was initiated in 1960, revealed that a battle streamer had never been issued to the unit. A letter was submitted to the Department of the Army requesting issue of a campaign streamer for the active duty service of the unit with the Hawaii Territorial Guard. The reply from DA was that the unit was not entitled to battle honors, rather, only the active Army personnel (cadre and instructors) who were on duty with the unit at the time of the attack of Pearl Harbor were entitled to the award. In as much as the Territorial Guard was strictly a local unit and was never federalized, the ROTC unit was not entitled to battle honors.
LTC William C. Meyer, a member of the corps during December 1941 discussed the issue with members of the Military Science Department and concluded that a streamer or similar token might be authorized and obtained through the State of Hawaii. Dean Harold M. Bitner spoke to State Senator Sakae Takahashi concerning the possibility. In February 1961, Senator Takahashi referred the matter to the Legislative Reference Bureau for preparation of legislation to authorize the award of a streamer or other appropriate device to the unit. On 6 July the purchase and award of a streamer to the Army ROTC Detachment, University of Hawaii, was authorized under Act 148, Regular Session 1961. Major General F. W. Makinney presented the streamer on 3 April 1962.
ROTC was suspended during the war. In 1945, the Department of Military Science was reestablished and infantry training was resumed. In May 1947, Governor Ingram Stainback, recognizing the need for a local source of artillery officers to fulfill the needs of the two Territorial Guard Battalions, requested of the UH President, Gregg Sinclair that a field artillery ROTC unit be established. The request was submitted to the War Department, approved in July 1947, and implemented in the 1947-1948 school year.
RECOGNITION OF EXCELLENCE – THE WARRIOR OF THE PACIFIC
A special memento unique to the University of Hawaii is our Warrior of the Pacific Trophy. This trophy, awarded for rifle marksmanship, had its origin at the University of Hawaii in 1925 and was later adopted by the War Department as the National ROTC Rifle Team Trophy.
The origin of this award was a direct result of the rifle competition conducted at Camp Lewis, Washington, during the summer of 1925. The University of Hawaii team, competing with the best teams in the 9th Corps area, succeeded in winning the Doughboy of the West Trophy that, at the time, was the most coveted award presented at summer camp. However, the Hawaii team was declared ineligible to receive the trophy on the grounds that it was strictly a 9th Corps Area award. The great disappointment suffered by the team in losing the trophy on a technicality was shared by many prominent local citizens when the cadets returned from summer camp. Sparked by COL Adna G. Clarke, PMS at the time, a campaign led by the Honolulu Advertiser was started. The campaign invited contributions for the establishment of a Hawaiian Department ROTC trophy for which the Hawaii team would be eligible to compete. A total of $329.96 was received, and the Warrior of the Pacific Trophy came into being.
This bronze trophy is a 22-inch statuette representing a Hawaiian soldier of 1798, when Kamehameha I conquered the islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago. It was modeled by Gordon Osborne, Hawaii’s leading sculptor, and was posed by William Wise, captain of the UH football team who is of Hawaiian ancestry. The trophy was cast in bronze at Providence, Rhode Island, and was presented to the 1925 team, which had been disappointed at Camp Lewis, Washington.
The first actual competition for the trophy was conducted at the 9th Corps area, with all leading universities west of the Rocky Mountains taking part. The team from Hawaii competed against 21 leading university teams for ten medals and eight trophies, and carried the day by winning all of the medals and seven of the trophies-including the Warrior of the Pacific Trophy. The university team tied for the eighth trophy. The record score of 216.54 points was set by the University of Hawaii team and still stands.
In 1927, the Warrior of the Pacific Trophy was tendered to the War Department by UH as a national ROTC rifle trophy to be competed for annually by all infantry ROTC units in the US. No award of the trophy was made in 1927 although UH again won the rifle competition at summer camp. The trophy was officially adopted by the War Department in 1928 as the National ROTC Rifle Team Award. In 1953, with the advent of the General Military Science Program, it became the national award for all ROTC units attending the General Military Science summer camp. Since its official adoption as a national award in 1928, the trophy has been won by the UH Rainbow Warriors 14 times. In 1961, UH won the “Warrior” again for the first time since 1941 with an average score of 195.74.
CHANGES THROUGH THE LAST HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY
In 1953, in an effort to gain greater flexibility, President Sinclair requested that the Army ROTC Department be converted to a General Military Science Program. This request was approved in December 1953 and was instituted effective for the 1954-1955 school year. Since that time, Army ROTC cadets at UH have received training to qualify them for duty as officers in all branches.
A series of changes designed to improve the ROTC program were instituted in the fall of 1965. The program, which had been compulsory for more than forty years, was now offered on a voluntary basis. The Revitalization Act of 1964, signed on 13 October, 1964 allowed students who were unable to enter the program upon entry to college to enter a two-year program during the junior year. Additionally, a mutual agreement between UH and Chaminade College of Honolulu which permitted students on the Chaminade campus to enroll in the UH ROTC program was initiated. In Spring of 1967, Wendell C. K. Hosea became the first Chaminade graduate to receive his Army commission as Second Lieutenant.
Soon after, a new program for ROTC cadets interested in aviation was introduced. Flight training sponsored by the Military Science Program was administered with the cooperation of the Honolulu International Airport. All expenses were borne by the Army and the program was established as an extracurricular activity. Successful completion of the course led to the award of a civilian pilot’s license. The program was suspended in 1977.
On 1 September 1971, Church College of Hawaii, known now as Brigham Young University-Hawaii, signed a mutual agreement with UH similar to the one earlier established with Chaminade. Students from the Church College campus could now also participate in ROTC at UH.
The 1972-73 school year saw the new female ROTC program become effective. UH was one of only ten schools across the nation that were authorized the indoctrination of females into the program. It was so successful that in September 1975, the opportunity for females to join the Army ROTC was opened nation-wide. As of 1999, females made up 35% of Army ROTC.
From 1976 to the present, UH ROTC has experienced continued growth and has overcome the adverse sentiments of the Vietnam Era and a potentially devastating fire. Many policy changes have occurred, including the requirement to be an academic junior before students may be contracted. Hence, prior service and qualified JROTC students are required to wait two years before contracting.
Another devastating fire destroyed supply, administration, classroom, cadet memorabilia, and the ROTC library in April 1986. Despite this, the program has continued to excel with combined efforts of WESTCOM, Fourth ROTC Region, and the Rainbow Warrior Battalion. Funding to construct a new UH Army ROTC facility was obtained in 1986. Construction began in March of 1989. The new facility was dedicated in March 1990. Also held at the dedication was a UH Army ROTC reunion. The most senior attendee represented the class of 1931.
After several years, and in partnership with the UH and military, arrangements to start an Army ROTC program at UH-Hilo (UHH) began in 1987, resulting in the first opening in fall 1988. Strong local and student support of the Army ROTC Program at UHH continued, but budget constraints and policy guidance forced a closure of the program by the summer of 1991.
TODAY AND TOMORROW
Although some programs have come and gone, steady strides continue to be made to continually enhance the quantity and quality of the UH Army ROTC program. Cadets from the UH have gone on to serve with distinction in the United States Government, Hawaii State Government, and the United States Army. As today’s cadets mature and gain experience and responsibility, they too, will no doubt carry on the traditions of excellence that the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors have contributed to their Army units, the State of Hawaii, and the United States of America. With over 2000 Army officers commissioned at the University of Hawaii Army ROTC, 16 of them attaining the rank of 1, 2, or 3 star General plus countless Colonels, a superior leader is developed at this program as it has for nearly 100 years and will continue for decades to come.