165th Infantry Regiment stationed on Kaua‘i during WWII, trains for Battle of Makin
A U.S. Army unit with roots dating back to the Revolutionary War, the 165th Infantry Regiment — originally designated the 69th Infantry Regiment and nicknamed “The Fighting 69th” — was one of several Army units stationed on Kauai during WWII.
Other Army units based on the Garden Isle during the war were the 298th and 299th Infantry regiments, elements of the 27th Div., of which the 165th was a part, the 33rd Div., the 40th Div., and two regiments of the 98th Div.
On March 16, 1942, the 165th arrived on Kaua‘i at Port Allen and was immediately trucked to Barking Sands, where it built and manned beach defenses in the vicinity of Barking Sands Airfield against a possible invasion by Japan.
Then, in October 1942, the regiment commenced combat training at Koke‘e in preparation for offensive operations in the Pacific Theater against Japan.
Beginning in May 1943, this training included exercises in amphibious operations in which the regiment spent weeks disembarking from troop transports at sea onto landing craft that formed into waves and assaulted Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Maui beaches.
The regiment’s baptism of fire took place on Makin Atoll in Nov. 1943., when the 165th and other Army units captured the atoll by squeezing the Japanese garrison into a pocket and destroying it.
Its next combat occurred during the battle for Saipan in June-July 1944, where it was involved in brutal and bitter fighting. The 165th eliminated the last resistance on Saipan, thus ending the battle.
In fighting on Okinawa from April to June 1945, the 165th took heavy casualties battling a fanatical enemy occupying rugged terrain in formidable defenses, yet it always achieved its objectives.
Longtime Kaua‘i resident C. P. “Duke” Curran (1921-2011) was stationed on Kaua–i with the 165th Infantry Regt during WWII.