From: U.S. Congressional Joint Committee on Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings: Pt. 24, Proceedings of the Roberts Commission, pp. 1448-1453.




Branch Intelligence Office

Port Allen, Kauai, T. H.
                                                      December 16, 1941. 
From: The Officer-in-Charge, Zone 4.
To: District Intelligence Officer.
Subject: Crash of Enemy Plane on Niihau.
Enclosure: Copy of Lieut. Jack Mizuha's report on same Subject, to Lt. 
           Colonel Fitzgerald, Commanding Officer, Kauai Military 

1. On Saturday, December 13, 1941, at 3:00 p. m., six Niihau Hawaiians, captained by Kekuhina Kaohelaulii, landed at Waimea, Kauai, in a whale boat, to report to the Robinson family of Makaweli, Kauai, T. H., the crash of a Japanese plane on Niihau. The crew left Niihau that same day at 12:30 a. m., and rowed to Kauai, making the trip in about fifteen hours.

2. Lt. Colonel Fitzgerald was notified and immediately organized an expedition Squad of twelve armed soldiers from Company "M", 299th Infantry under the supervision of Lieut. Jack Mizuha of the same Company. The lighthouse tender "Kukui" fortunately was at Niihau extinguishing lighthouse lights. A dispatch was sent to have it return to Waimea, Kauai, immediately to take the above-named troops to Niihau.

3. The "Kukui", having about twelve armed men of its own and two machine guns, left Waimea at about six p. m. Saturday, December 13, 1941, and arrived at southwest point, Keanapuka, Niihau, as Nonopapa, the main landing, was too rough. The party of armed soldiers went ashore Sunday about 7:30 a. m. and had breakfast, then had to walk about ten miles to the Nonopapa village, where the plane crashed nearby, arriving there at 1:50 p. m.

4. When the troops reached the village and plane, they found that there was only one plane and one Japanese pilot, who had already been killed and buried. The plane had been burned by the pilot at three a. m. Saturday morning, December 13, 1941.

5. The description of the plane is as follows: The Japanese plane, burned by the pilot, had its fuselage burned, but the wings, tail, and engine were intact. It had a three-blade propeller which was bent. The plane was small, possibly twenty feet long, and twenty feet from wing tip to wing tip, but sturdy and made of metal, probably of magnesium and not aluminum. It was a fighter type with four 20 mm cannons, one in each wing, and two, either in the propeller hub and synchronized with the engine, or in the cockpit. Single engine, average size, possibly Curtiss-Wright engine, and had a G. E. generator, an American radio set (make unknown) which was damaged by the fire.

Page 1449

6. Rising sun insignia were on each wing tip, top and bottom. The num- [2] ber of the plane on the tail was B11-120. Both landing wheels were severely damaged.

7. The complete details of the entire episode of the crash, as explained to the officer-in-charge by Mr. Elmer Robinson and Benny Kanahele, now in Waimea, Kauai, Hospital, from December 7 to 14, inclusive, is explained herein. Please note that this report is more brief and concise than the enclosed report to the Army. Mr. Elmer Robinson stated that the picture given to this office was his compiled story of the various day-by-day incidents, and that the report made by Lieut. Jack Mizuha included the remarks made by a large gathering of Hawaiians at a meeting held on Niihau, Sunday at 3 P. M. December 14, 1941. This meeting was conducted by Mr. Elmer Robinson, as he speaks Hawaiian fluently. Questions and answers were made in Hawaiian and translated into English.

8. Sunday between 1 and 2 p. m. December 7, 1941, at Niihau, various Hawaiian residents of the island saw two planes flying over Niihau. One crashed quite close to the Nonopana village and the other flew on west, past the island and presumably crashed in the sea. However, it was never seen again. Incidentally, the residents of the island had absolutely no means of communication with Kauai or elsewhere and were unaware of the United States being at war with Japan. Mr. Elmer Robinson wrote a letter about December 9, 1941, informing the Niihau population that the United States was at war, but unfortunately it was not delivered by a detailed sampan.

9. The single-seater fighter plane only had one Japanese pilot who was seized by the Hawaiians immediately after it crashed into a fence next to the village, and before the pilot could locate his pistol. Then Howard Kaleohano searched the plane and secured all the papers, map of Oahu, and pistol for safekeeping, to be turned over to the proper source ultimately.

1Q The pilot surrendered before all the Hawaiians and remained peaceful and friendly and lived at the village and at first was not kept in custody, but was allowed to roam about unguarded. At first, when spoken to, he would reply in English writing, then later spoke English to the Hawaiians fluently. He was possibly educated in the mainland.

11. Then on Tuesday he was placed under guard of Harada and Shintani, and was sent to Kii, furthest northeast end of Niihau, in the hope that the pilot could be sent to Kauai by sampan or Robinson's whale boat that was stationed there in their boat house. As the sea was too rough, he was returned to the village and again another trip was made to Kii on Wednesday, but he was returned a second time on account of bad weather.

12. Thursday, Harada complained to the Hawaiians, stating that it was a mistake that the two Niihau Japanese were selected as guards for the pilot. They were then relieved of their duty, and later on in the day, Harada, the [3] citizen, asked a Hawaiian to have Shintani, the alien, come and see him, to discuss some matters, but Shintani wouldn't come.

13. Then on Friday Shintani had lunch with the Hawaiians. After the Hawaiians were through work, Shintani went to Howard Kaleohano's house at the village and asked for the papers. Howard was guarding the plane nearby. Howard Kaleohano obtained the map, then Shintani said "Not that, but the other papers", so he could burn and destroy them.

14. Then Shintani produced about $200 in an attempt to bribe Howard Kaleohano. He refused the bribe at first, and more so after the money was offered for the papers. Then Shintani said excitedly that it was a matter of death or life, and insisted that Japan made him do this. After this, Shintani disappeared out of the picture entirely.

15. Friday night Harada and pilot broke into Shintani's house looking for the papers. As Shintani had joined the Hawaiians, they failed to secure the papers. Harada and the pilot then became furious, and seeing Shintani in the village later, chased him, but he got away. Then some of the Hawaiians were taken prisoners by Harada and the pilot and tied up-the other Hawaiians were away from the village. After Shintani left the village, the pilot asked Harada if he had another gun. Earlier in the day, Harada and the pilot had been to Kaleohano's house and presumably had found the pilot's pistol during Kaleohano's absence, but felt that each should have a weapon with which to control their Hawaiian prisoners. Then Harada took the pilot to the honey house which was close to the village and got a shotgun and some cartridges.

16. About midnight the pilot attempted to send a message from his radio in the plane, in Japanese. A few of the Hawaiians heard him talking, but did

Page 1450

not hear a reply. The residents, knowing he had sent the message, were aware at this time that there was a war on and became alarmed, as they were afraid the pilot had sent for aid from the enemy. The pilot burned his plane at 3 a. m. Saturday, December 13, 1941. At the same time, he burned Kalehano's house hoping to destroy his map and papers which he thought were hidden there.

17. The Hawaiians at the village were well scattered. Some went to the top of the mountain with kerosene lamps and reflectors and attempted to signal Kauai. Some were at the beach, while some Hawaiians were riding from the mountains to Kii beach to prepare the whaleboat for a trip to Kauai. While the pilot was at the plane before burning it, the Hawaiian had the pilot's papers at the mountain top and later took them to Kii. Six strong Hawaiians left Kii in the whaleboat at 12:30 a. m. Saturday, December 13, 1941, for Kauai, arriving there about fifteen hours later, at Waimea, Kauai, at 3:00 p. m. They reported to the Robinsons at Makaweli, Kauai.

18. That night the Hawaiians on Niihau had a prayer meeting, then all left for the mountains to join the others who were already there. A few [4] stragglers were captured by the pilot and Harada who said they would be released if they told them where the papers were. They also had two machine guns with them which had been taken from the plane in the afternoon. Shintani never at any time had any firearms and was not implicated in the case except for attempting to bribe the Hawaiian as previously mentioned.

19. Saturday, December 13, 1941, at 10:00 a. m., Benny Kanahele attempted to grab the pilot's pistol but failed. Then Benny's wife who was next to him, grabbed the pistol and Harada pulled her away. Then the pilot, still having the pistol, shot Benny three times, in the right and left thighs and on his upper right side. All were flesh wounds.

20. Benny Kanahele then picked up the pilot bodily and dashed his head on a stone wall and killed him. Harada then shot himself in the abdomen twice and died soon afterward. The bodies were temporarily buried at Niihau away from the village.

21. The Kauai Army expedition party arrived as stated at 1:50 p. m. Sunday December 14, 1941, at the village. They returned to Port Allen, Kauai, on the "Kukui" arriving about 7:30 a. m. Monday, December 15, 1941. Shintani, Mrs. Harada, and her child were brought back and were imprisoned under Colonel Fitzgerald's control. Benny Kanahele, the wounded man, is now in the hospital at Waimea, Kauai.


Lieutenant, U. S. N. R.


The Japanese plane came down near Howard Kaleohano's house on Sunday, 7 December, 1941, between 1 and 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The plane was flying low about 75 yards from Kaleohano's house, apparently out of gasoline, and tried to zoom up again when its undergear got caught in the fence wire, and the plane landed flat on the ground. It must have had its landing gear down, because both wheels were knocked off at the time the expedition party arrived at the plane. Howard Kaleohano was at home at the time the plane came down, and he ran to it. He saw that it wasn't an American plane, and thought it strange. Upon reaching the cockpit, he saw this Japanese aviator with a pistol in his hand, trying to unstrap his safety belt. Kaleohano immediately grabbed the pistol, taking it away from him, and pulled the aviator out of the cockpit. Kaleohano searched him and took away from him some papers which included an Oahu map. At the time the aviator was in the cockpit, he immediately, perhaps unconsciously, thought of his papers and reached for his pocket, which put Kaleohano wise to it, and as a result, Kaleohano searched him outside. By this time the whole populace of Niihau had come to the plane and they decided to keep the aviator at Joseph Kele's house.

The aviator was fed at Kele's house, and was guarded there Sunday night. On Monday he was taken to Keei, where they planned to send him to Kauai on the Robinson sampan, but it didn't come through. The aviator was brought back and on Tuesday he was again taken to Keei, but the launch did not come In that day. He was kept at Keei Tuesday night until Wednesday morning. They returned Wednesday afternoon, and took him to Yoshio Harada's house. Five men remained to stay on guard at Harada's house.

Page 1451

At the time the aviator was brought to Harada's house, Harada showed no signs of disloyalty, and took his regular turn at guarding the aviator.

On Sunday, when the plane first landed, Shintani, the alien Japanese, had a few words with the aviator, but there wasn't any lengthy conversation.

On Thursday Harada, the citizen Japanese, asked to have Shintani come down and have Shintani help guard the aviator, as he, Harada, didn't want the entire responsibility, being the only Japanese with the aviator, and he wanted both to share the responsibility

John Kekuhina told Shintani to come down, but Shintani said he didn't want to go that night but would go the following day when his work would be down there near Harada's house. On Friday morning Kekuhina went to Paniau (the high mountain) to make a fire as a signal to Kauai. Shintani went on Friday to Harada's house and saw Harada and the aviator. The Hawaiians had no idea what went on among them as they did not understand the language. They do not know how much conversation took place. At a little after 1 o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, Kaleoao Keale was returning from work, and he saw Shintani with the two Japanese at [2] Harada's house, Shintani apparently eating his lunch at that time. About half an hour, Keale returned and Shintani was through with his lunch and had gone away. Shintani later told Keale that he had gone to his bee apiary to do his work. As far as Keale knows, Shintani didn't see the aviator or the Japanese again.

At about four o'clock in the afternoon, Friday, 12 December 1941, Shintani came to Howard Kaleohano's house. Shintani woke Kaleohano up by pounding on the door. Shintani asked Kaleohano if he had the aviator's papers and he replied in the affirmative. Kaleohano showed him first the Oahu map. Shintani replied that it wasn't the Oahu map he wanted. It was the other papers he wanted. Kaleohano went for the other papers and got them out, and showed them to Shintani. Shintani asked for them but was refused. Shintani to]d him that it meant life and death to Shintani. Kaleohano refused to give the paper. Shintani asked again, "Wont you give them to me so that I can burn them." Kaleohano refused, saying it was against the law and both of them would be punished if the papers were destroyed Shintani then offered money which was estimated by Kaleohano to be about $200.00. Shintani was refused again. Shintani repeated again that it was life and death but did not say to whom. Shintani then disappears from the picture after this.

At about 5:30 Friday afternoon, the aviator and Harada, and a boy, Kalihilihi Niau, about 16 years of age came to Kaleohano's house. Harada was prodding the boy with a gun. Kaleohano was in the outhouse (lavatory) at that time and hid from the Japanese. After looking for Kaleohano for a while, they left the house and went to the plane. It was at this time, it is presumed that the aviator recovered the pistol from Kaleohano's house. Kaleohano left the premises and met Kaahikili Kalimahuluhulu and explained to him the trouble, told him what was going on, and asked him for horses. At the same time another boy, Naalulu Kanahele gave him the horse and Kaleohano gave the alarm that the men were on the rampage. Before going to the mountains, Kaleohano returned to his house and hid the aviator's papers in another locality away from the house, with the exception of the Oahu map. He then went to another house and got a pair of shoes and went to the mountains. He got to Paniau at about 9 o'clock, where some other men had kerosene lamps with reflectors, signaling Kauai. They came on down after putting out the Kerosene lamps and went to Keei. At half past 12 Friday night, they left Keei and on Saturday afternoon at three o'clock they got to Waimea. The men who put out on the whale to come to Kauai to sound the alarm were Kekuhina Kaohelaulii, commander of the boat, Howard Kaleohano, Akano Kaohelaulii, Enoka Kaohelaulii, Willy Kaohelaulii, and Kahokuloa Kanahele.

Sometime on Friday afternoon the aviator asked to go out to the toilet at Harada's house. He asked the guard to go across the yard to the honey warehouse. Harada then went out of the house also. Hanaiki Niheu, the husband of the school-teacher was the guard at that time, and he followed the aviator across the yard, followed by Harada. Harada opened the honey warehouse, and they went in and got Harada's shotgun, and then turned upon the guard and had him at his mercy. The aviator had the shotgun in his hand. They went down to the next warehouse below, opened it and ordered Hanaiki into it and locked Hanaiki in it. The rest of the guards were not present as they were [3] on the committee arranging the work for the next day. They didn't see any of this.

Page 1452

Mrs. Niheu had been living over the hill from the ranch headquarters where the Haradas live. She was short of supplies and went down with her children, Keia, Lisa, Mele, and a little baby. They were returning to the village in a wagon, with Loisa riding the horse pulling the wagon. When they were past the upper side of the house on the hill road, Keia heard Harada calling, Harada ahead and the aviator following, running down the hill. Harada asked them to stop Mrs. Niheu kept on going. Harada ran out and told them to stop the car. Harada stopped the wagon and commanded everybody to get down from the car, on threat of their lives. Harada held the gun at Mrs. Niheu's shoulders but didn't shoot. The two Japanese got into the wagon and called to Loisa who was told to stay on the horse, to drive fast with the wagon. They held the gun behind Loisa. They came to the gate to Kaleohano's house and they left the cart there and went to Kaleohano's house. They picked up the boy at the airplane, which they were prodding with the gun at the time Kaleohano saw them. This boy, Kalihilihi, had been guarding the plane in the absence of his father. By this time, all the people had the alarm, and they had left the houses and gone into hiding.

At the end of the village, the two Japanese captured Kalanapio Niiau and they told him to call the other people. They came down through the village, and under duress, Niiau was calling for the others. Kaahakila Kalimahuluhulu was at the house of his relatives trying to get them all out of way and got practically every one of them into shelter and he heard Niiau calling and he thought Niiau was calling for help. So Kalimahuluhulu answer the call. It was dark then, and when he went out to the road to meet them, Kalimahuluhulu was also seized as a captive. They tied Kalimahuluhulu's hands behind him, and with the two captives they came down through the town calling for the others. Nobody else came. They came to Joseph Kele's house where Kalimahuluhulu saw a light which disappeared suddenly. No one could be found at Kele's house, so they ordered Niiau and Kalimahuluhulu to go down to the gate where they had left the wagon. They were then ordered to go where the plane was. Both captives saw that they had taken the cartridges out and had piles [sic] them on the wing of the plane. The aviator went into the plane and they heard him run the radio. He put on his earphones and began calling in Japanese, but the captives did not hear any reply. They had a big pile of cartridges and Harada forced Niiau to help him carry the cartridges to the wagon. Then when they came back again, the machine gun was taken out. Niiau had to carry it down to the cart. Harada told Kalimahuluhulu to go to Keoikia to tell Harada's wife that he won't be back tonight—that they were going to look for Kaleohano. Kalimahuluhulu instead of going there went to the beach and joined his family there. He got his wife to untie his hands and got Benny Nokaka Kanahele who was there to join him to recover the cartridges because Harada had told him that the cartridges were enough to kill off every man, woman, and child on the island. Harada and the aviator had gone off looking for the rest of [4] the people. So Kalimahuluhulu and Benny came up to the deserted wagon the machine gun was missing, but the cartridges were there. Kalimahuluhulu took one bunch and Benny took the other and took them down the beach and hid them.

Benny then went to take care of the family, went to get horses to hide his family. Benny told his family not to tell Harada about his whereabouts. Kalimahuluhulu and Kanahele's family were captured on Saturday morning. They said (the Japanese) that if they could catch Kaleohano, the rest of the people would be let off. If they couldn't, they would kill everybody else.

During Friday night, these two men burned the plane and Kaleohano's house about three o'clock in the morning. Then they went through the village and shot off the guns on Friday night.

The Japanese told the families to find Kaleohano. The aviator had recovered the pistol at that time from Kaleohano's house. Harada had the shotgun. The two Japanese started out looking. They said they would kill the two women and then they would kill themselves. Then afterwards they changed their idea and told Kalimahuluhulu's wife to go into the koa forest to find Kaleohano. She escaped in that fashion.

Benny Kanahele had been captured along with his family early in the morning. He was sent into the thickets looking for Kaleohano and came back and joined his wife who was held captive. That is when Mr. and Mrs. Kanahele finished off the aviator and Harada killed himself. (The complete story of this part of the story can be secured from Mr. and Mrs. Kanahele who were not questioned at Niihau, but were brought back to Kauai.) The guns were not recovered as they were hidden by the natives in the koa forest and could not be found by them.

Page 1453

Mr. Elmer Robinson left instructions with the natives to make a diligent search of the guns, and if recovered, would be turned over to him and then turned over to the military commander of the Kauai District.

The above story was repeated to the undersigned officer by Mr. Elmer Robinson who secured the story from the various natives in the village. Mr. Robinson secured the story in Hawaiian and translated it into English. The English version was taken down by this officer by stenographic notes.

Captain Eugene MacManus, harbormaster at Port Allen, was present during this entire hearing.

1st. Lt., 299th Infantry

This HTML document was created by GT_HTML 6.0d 11/21/97 4:11 PM.