Kauai Volunteers Commander Paul Townsley

  • Kauai Volunteers Commander Paul Townsley

Paul Townsley (1899-1956) was Lihue Plantation’s office manager from 1929 to 1954 and the commander of the Kauai Volunteers, a militia formed during World War II to supplement the armed forces and National Guard in defense of Kauai.

Born in Iowa, Townsley joined Wailuku Sugar Co. in 1913 as a civil engineer, was a World War I veteran, and was cashier at Oahu Sugar Co. in 1929, the year he accepted the position of office manager at Lihue Plantation.

In February 1942, when the Army authorized the formation of a civilian reserve force on Kauai, Townsley was commissioned a colonel and placed in command of that force — the Kauai Volunteers.

Within a month, Townsley had recruited a regiment comprised of three infantry battalions and one mounted detachment, numbering about 2,400 men, with 90 percent being Filipinos employed by Kauai’s sugar plantations.

Townsley’s 1st battalion consisted of companies recruited at Kekaha, Waimea, Makaweli and Eleele. The 2nd battalion’s volunteers came from Kalaheo, Koloa and Lihue, and the 3rd battalion was made up of men from Kapaa, Moloaa and Kilauea.

His mounted detachment was led by Alan Faye Sr.

Officers came largely from the ranks of plantation management, while noncommissioned officers were mostly Filipinos with experience in the Philippine constabulary.

Select officers and men of the regular Army served as military advisors and instructors to the volunteers, and supplied them with pistols, rifles, other arms and ammunition.

Volunteer duties included maneuvers, beach defense, guard duty, traffic control and scout duty for Army troops unfamiliar with Kauai’s rugged interior.

Funding was provided by the volunteers themselves, the American Legion, sugar plantations, local businesses, the Office of Civilian Defense and Kauai County.

Townsley was cited “For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service in assisting the United States Army Forces on the Island of Kauai in planning the defenses of the Island of Kauai,” when the Kauai Volunteers were disbanded in July 1945.

He and his wife, Betty, had two children: Boyd and Jane Townsley.

Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

  1. Hank Soboleski September 8, 2019 11:58 am Reply

    Correction: Paul Townsley was born in 1889.

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