Made possible by an anonymous donor, the LAND, SEA, AIR: Maui in Wartime exhibit shares the overwhelming story of the pilot training that took place at Pu’unene field during WWII and throughout the island of Maui.
By one report, more than 20,000 WWII pilots were trained at the Pu’unene and Kahului Air Fields. Dropped off on Maui as their carriers continued on to get stocked with supplies in Pearl Harbor, these pilots prepared for battle by being briefed and schooled by battle-tested aircrews on the latest tactics and formations used by the enemy. They also trained and collaborated with the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions also stationed on Maui and the Island of Hawaii in preparation for the landings at Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.
A central story incorporated into this exhibit references the support extended by the Von Tempsky family. Using their ranch, the family extended badly needed R&R to pilots, Marines, soldiers, and others before they launched into battle. Many of these service members, out of gratitude and camaraderie, signed the wall. Though a great deal has changed, the famed wall of the Von Tempsky ranch was preserved and moved to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, where it is now displayed, unavailable to Hawaii’s residents and visitors. A rendering of the wall, along with many other stories that may have been forgotten by all but a few, are now shared at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.