Four stones make up this monument: The 2nd and 5th Marine Divisions
trained here to bring peace
to the Pacific
Parker Ranch & Camp Tarawa 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, host to Soldiers, Sailors, and more than 50,000 U.S. Marines over the duration of the war years. During the months 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 residents. 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 components 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 Corp 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.
2d Marine Division
This stone honors the heroic Marines and Sailors of the 2d Marine Division, who endured the pioneering amphibious assault on Betio in the Tarawa Atoll, November 20-23, 1943. Tarawa was a savage and bloody battle that tested and shaped amphibious doctrine - doctrine that would ultimately bring victory and peace in the Pacific. Following their success at Tarawa, the Division traveled to a unfinished camp located at Parker Ranch. While refitting and recuperating, the 2d Marine Division completed work on the camp. It was later
named Camp Tarawa in their honor. On February 12, 1944, Marines were invited to compete with local paniolos in a grand rodeo. More than 10,000 spectators witnessed the friendly completion. This event lifted the spirits of the U.S. Marines for the duration of their training. The 2d Marine Division departed Camp Tarawa that spring to participate in the invasions of Saipan and Tinian.
5th Marine Division
This stone honors the heroic Marines and Sailors of the 5th Marine Division, who trained at Camp Tarawa in preparation for the February 19, 1945 assault on the island of Iwo Jima. They arrived at the camp throughout the summer and fall of 1944. The division conducted rehearsals for the assault using the steep volcanic hills located on Parker Ranch, which simulated Iwo Jima's most significant military feature - Mt. Suribachi. By January 1945, the 5th Marine Division had departed Camp Tarawa for Iwo Jima. The defining moment of that historic 36-day battle occurred February 23rd, when "Old Glory" was raised atop Mt. Suribachi by men of the 28th Regiment. The flag raising was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal's photograph, and later by Felix DeWeldon's Marine Corp War Memorial
statue adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. After Iwo Jima was secure on March 26, 1945, the 5th Marine Division returned to Camp Tarawa in April for additional training while awaiting further orders. They departed Camp Tarawa for Kyushu to serve as an occupation force following Japan's surrender.