Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Hotel for service personnel among Inouye's quiet deeds

By Ben Wood


NO HAWAII political leader has done more for the islands than Sen. Dan Inouye. The Democratic senator and Medal of Honor recipient for his World War II heroics with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team died Monday at 88. Dan's national prominence took off when he stood out as a member of the U.S. Senate's select committee in 1973's Watergate hearings that brought down President Richard Nixon. I made my first visit to Washington during the hearings to see a friend and visited Dan's office. It was our first meeting and he was kind enough to take me to the hearings one day. I will never forget the media rushing him on our arrival with flashbulbs popping wildly. It was rock star time.

I had a few unexpected meetings with him over the years. A significant one was in 2007 when former Army chief of staff, the late Gen. Fred Weyand, who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, was being honored for getting the Hale Koa Hotel built in 1975 for service personnel. Weyand, who commanded the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam, wanted to make it possible for service personnel in Asia and elsewhere to have a hotel room in Waikiki they could afford for R & R with their families and loved ones. Weyand credited his friend Dan for helping to make it happen and said the Hawaii senator's "fingerprints and handprints" were all over it. The hotel was built with PX funds; it didn't cost taxpayers a dime. The second tower went up in 1995. The Hale Koa is one of many important things Dan was involved with that were not well known.

Aloha, Dan. You did very well. …

THE BOOK "Hula is Healing," written by Whitney Pii­lani Baldwin Schneider-Furuya and illustrated by her grandmother, Mapuana Schneider, has been released. It is dedicated to Halau I Ka Wekiu. Whitney will represent the halau in the Miss Aloha Hula competition of the 50th Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo in April. She and Mapuana, a hula queen and artist, signed books Sunday at Native Books/Na Mea Hawai‘i. Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners Karl Veto Baker and Michael Casupang, kumu of Halau I Ka Wekiu, the overall 2012 Merrie Monarch winner, entertained.

"Ever since I was a little girl my grandma would share stories of when she danced hula in Waikiki," Pii­lani said. Mapuana danced at the Halekulani as one of the famed Halekulani Girls, at Don The Beachcomber and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with legendary singer Alfred Apaka, and for 17 years with the Kahauanu Lake Trio. "I started my formal hula training when I was in seventh grade," Piilani said. "Prior to that my grandma would teach me songs to dance at family parties. I have danced the last 12 years under the direction of Karl and Michael." …

DANCING ON: Four close friends who formerly worked for the late Carl "Link" Lindquist at Trade Publishing Co. had their annual lunch in his memory at Murphy's Dec. 12. Attending were Barbara Holm, Jim Cook, Carl "Kini Popo" Hebenstreit and Brett Uprichard. Some of the hijinks Link and his merry band were responsible for are legendary. …

MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone! …


Ben Wood, who sold newspapers on Honolulu streets in World War II, writes of people, places and things. Email him at

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