Official Website of the U.S. Marine Raider Association & Foundation

Select Page

U. S. Marine Raider Association Fights the Renaming of Henderson Field

The activities of the United State Marine Raider Association in countering the recommendation of Japanese commercial interests in the Solomon Islands, to rename Henderson Field, can be seen in the reproduction of some of the email generated.

Henderson Field Keeps Name

Thank you note from Solomon Island Prime Minister

(Initial notification of  Japanese attempt to rename Henderson Field –  USMRA Thanks you Michael Albers.)
Date: 5/19/0310:28:07 PM Central Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

U.S. Marine Raiders Association


I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Solomon Islands from 1977 through 1980 and was privileged to meet and escort a number of World War II Guadalcanal Campaign Army, Navy, and Marine veterans.

I have kept in touch with events in the Solomon Islands via the internet. Sorry to say, the Solomon Islands has gone through difficult times in the past five years, marked by political unrest and a shattered economy.

Recently I learned that the Solomon Islands government plans to change the name of the international airport on Guadalcanal from its historic name of Henderson Field. I don’t need to tell you that the airport was named after a Marine aviator who lost his life at the battle of Midway. According to news reports (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Australia), the name change was suggested by a Japanese consulting group!

Reputedly, the government feels the current name has no relevance to the people of the Solomons. Having listened to many wartime tales from Solomon Islanders who actively participated as scouts (the valiant Jacob Vouza, for one) and provided valuable logistical support, I feel the Solomon Islands and the United States have a shared history and there is, in fact, great relevance in that name to the wonderful people of the Solomons.

I urge you to let the Solomon Island government know how important the linkage between our two peoples are and the shared significance that the name of Henderson Field has.


Michael Albers
Oakland, California, USA

(Text as seen Online from Radio Australia)

Solomon Islands to take American name off airport to recognise Japan

The name of one of the most bitterly contested pieces of Pacific land during World War Two is reportedly about to undergo a change.

Solomon Islands international airport is currently known as Henderson Field, but the island’s Broadcasting Corporation says the Department of Infrastructure believes the name has little context for the country.

The airport was built at the opening of the Pacific war by Japan, which prompted a hasty US Marine landing in 1942.

The airfield was named after a Marine Corp Major, who was killed in the Battle of Midway.

SIBC says the name change idea came from a Japanese consultancy group about a possible restoration of the airport, including repairs to its runway, lighting and domestic and international terminals.

* * *

(Above information forwarded to the following by Mel Heckt immediate past President USMRA)

Subj: Fwd: Fw: Henderson
Date: 5/21/0311:01:52 AM Central Daylight Time
From: MELHECKT (To twenty recipients)

Forwarded Message:
Subj: RE: Fw: Henderson
Date: 5/21/03 9:37:45 AM Central Daylight Time

Sent from the Internet (Details)

Mel – More info. I have raised this issue to the very highest level. I also expressed the outrage all of us (not just Guadalcanal vts) feel that they would even consider such an abomination. I can assure you that the Marine Corps feels strongly about this but so far we have not found the correct means to raise this to the Cabinet level. It would be most helpful if there were some Congressional help-read outrage-as well. It would then be instantly eleveted beyond the Marine Corps and DoD to the appropriate agency-State Dept.

I will keep you informed as this works its way along.

In the Attack, John

John W. RipIey
Col. J. W. Ripley USMC (ret.)
History & Museums Division
United States Marine Corps

(First message from President of USMRA)

Subj: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
Date: 5/21/037:13:26 PM Central Daylight lime
To: (20 recipients)

Thank you for the heads up on the possible renaming of Henderson Field. I assure you I am working on this, as we all should be. I’ll be back with an up date just as soon as I have any factual info.
Chuck Meacham.

Subj: Guadalcanal, Henderson Field.
Date: 5/22/031:09:18 AM Central Daylight lime
CC: (19 Recipients)

Sir, I am inquiring if Ambassador Thomas’ jurisdiction for U.S. Citizens includes Guadalcanal. If not could you please direct me to the proper Ambassador or Consulate. Thanking you in advance.
Semper Fidelis, Charles H. Meacham, Pres. U.S. Marine Raider Association.
P.S.: you may find our website of interest.

Subj: U. S. Contact in Solomon Islands
Date: 5/22/03 4:08:47 PM Central Daylight Time
From: Ohgng (Ervin Kaplan)

Hello Chuck,

The consular office in Honiara, Solomon Islands or the Embassy
in Papua, New Guinea may be contacted As indicated below.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: There is no U.S. Embassy in the Solomon Islands. However, there is a U.S. Consular Agency in Honiara. The Consular Agent has general information and forms (such as passport applications for forwarding to Port Moresby) and can be contacted at BJS Agencies Limited in Honiara, Tel (677) 23426, Fax (677) 21027. The U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea provides primary assistance for U.S. citizens in the Solomon Islands. The Embassy is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. Use this address for courier service deliveries. The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea; Tel (675) 321-1455; Fax (675) 321-1593; E-mail

Regards to June,


Subj: Re: U. S. Contact in Solomon Islands
Date: 5/22/034:32:47 PM Central Daylight lime
Sent from the Internet (Details)



Hello Chuck,

More information about aviation plans from the Office of the Republic of Solomon Islands, Prime Minister.

My first Contact concerning the change of name of Henderson Field. We must verify that the plans to do so are real.

See notification below to me By Michael Alben:

Gung ho and Semper fi,

Ervin (Kaplan)

Original Message – From: Chuck Meacham

Sent: Friday, May 23,200312:00 AM
Subject: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.

May 22, 2003 Mr. Ambassador: It is my understanding that inquiries regarding U.S. matters in Guadalcanal fall under the jurisdiction of your office. If I am incorrect please advise me of the appropriate Ambassador or Consulate. Thank you. Let me proceed with the understanding that yours is the proper office, time may be of the essence. It has come to the attention of the U.S. Marine Raider Association that the Japanese Consulate in Guadalcanal has proposed renaming Henderson Field to recognize Japan. Should this renaming actually be under consideration, it is an outrage and an affront to all the U.S. service men and women and, in particular, to the U.S. Marines; not only to those who died, were wounded and fought there but also to our nation as a whole. Henderson Field is named after a Marine Corps Major who was killed in the battle of Midway. Attached is a news item from Go Asia Pacific that depicts our concerns. My request of your office is to authenticate this news item. Our association naturally is affronted by this proposal; however, we wish the information officially corroborated prior to taking these concerns to our U.S. Senators and Congressmen.  Also, should renaming Henderson Field actually be under serious consideration, we need to know Japan’s justification for said renaming. their motive. and how far has this proposal gone-if at all? Thank you for your serious consideration to these concerns of the U.S. Marine Raider Association. The book Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis depicts some of our concems quite well; also, time permitting, you may find our website of interest
Semper Fidelis,
Charles H. Meacham,
President U.S. Marine Raider Association

(First message from “Bill” Fisher First Vice President USMRA)

Subj: Re: Info on Solomon Island Aviation
Date: 5/23/038:59:01 AM Central Daylight Time
File: HendersonField_revisd1.doc (23552 bytes) DL Time (45333 bps): < 1 minute
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Thanks Ervin:
My contact John Innes has a computer business in the Solomons and the govemment is one of his customers. I am
sending you an attachment FYI. As of this writing, seven senators, the Legislative Asst to CMC, John Ripley, Jon Hoffman and a slew of others are already at work. I have faxed the PM my thoughts. We must of course remember that SI is an independent country. You might remember that in about ’95 we rededicated Henderson Field. The ceremony with Lt Gen. Harold Block, the PM and myself as speakers was well received and effecti\ely stopped the attempt by the Japanese at that time to change the name to Chrysanthanum which I am sure you all remember was on the Jap helmet at times.

Perhaps a note on the WEB site would be appropriate if Chuck would like to write it.

Thanks again for your interest.

Semper Fidelis

Ashley W. “Bill” Fisher

5-23-03(Attachment Henderson Field _revisd1.doc)

Henderson Field
Is a name change a good idea?

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation has just released a bulletin stating that Henderson Field is shortly to have a name change.

It is reported that a Japanese consulting firm has suggested to the Solomon Island Government that the name be changed to Honiara Airport. In its investigations did the Japanese seek advice from Solomon Islanders as to how they felt about a name change?

More than seven thousand Solomon Islanders, Americans, New Zealanders, Fijians and Australians died during World War II fighting for Henderson Field and Guadalcanal. Thousands of others survived the fighting but still remember the shared hardship and triumph that is represented by the name “Henderson Field”.

The name Henderson is one steeped in history and emotion. It is the most famous airfield name in the Pacific. Any change means that the Solomons is casting away that historic name and paying insufficient attention to the international emotions that the name Henderson evokes.

Before the Japanese recommendations were made did the Japanese ask the families of heroes such as Solomon Islander Sir Jacob Vouza and Bill Bennet or Sir Gideon Zoloveke and other Solomon Island veterans how they feel about a name change?

To change the name will inevitably run the risk of offending many international friends, especially the Americans. In this crazy world we need more friends not less friends. I would want the Americans on my side any day!

The argument for a name change may have been suggested for a perceived financial benefit, but it is not clear how this would evolve. It is hard however to imagine any more visitors coming to the Solomons because of a name change. More visitors will be the result of better marketing of Solomon Island activities and places, not a name change.

Vanuatu has retained the name Bauerfield as its airport, after a pilot who also flew from Henderson. Their recent airport upgrade was also Japanese funded but it was not felt that therefore a name change was necessary.

Still in our region New Guinea has Jackson Field also named after a WWII pilot.  All around the world airports are named after famous people or fliers. In not one case has any change been made to these names.

It is noted that the Japanese are going to assist in the further development of the airfield and its surrounds. Surely the suggested name change has not been linked to Japanese aid money? The Americans will be impressed!  The Japanese economy owes its growth to its American trade and military protection.

The Solomon Islands is a sovereign country and will make up its own mind about a name change. It would be most unwise for the Japanese to put pressure however subtle or otherwise on the government!

The Government has more than enough financial troubles as it is. To change the name is going to cost a significant amount of money. There must be more pressing problems for the government to spend the money on.

It is not a name that only belongs to the past. A search today on the Internet brought up 8,770 current articles about Henderson Field. The name Henderson is a significant tourism related asset that can be cultivated. It was only last August that the name Henderson brought more than two hundred visitors from the US. We also had US F18 fighter planes landing and flying over in salute of Henderson Field.

There are about another two hundred US visitors coming over this August. Many of these are going on the Kennedy Island for the PT109 60th Anniversary swim. Are we shortly to change the name of Kennedy Island to something ‘more neutral’?

It is a fact that the Americans are looking at what they can do to assist the Solomons in preserving the history and the surrounding historic sites such as Bloody Ridge. They wish to encourage more US and overseas visitors to the Solomons. A name change might even discourage these initiatives.

The name Henderson should be retained for a number of reasons. If for no other reason that it attracts badly needed tourists.  At the very least the opinions of all Solomon Islanders should be considered before a name change occurs.

Our overseas veterans friends and allies have heard about this proposed name change. In fact the news has reached the highest political and military levels. Despite their immense disappointment they are aware that it is entirely a Solomon Island Government decision and can only watch in disappointment. It is up to Solomon Islanders to win this fight on their behalf.

Tourism Action Group

May 2003


Subj: Fw: Henderson
Date: 5/26/03 8:27:01 PM Central Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Ashley W. “Bill” Fisher
—– Original Message —–
To: ashley Fisher
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2003 5:34 PM
Subject: Henderson

Bill, (Fisher)

Wilson Maelaua is on the case too.

It is good to see that the Japanese business man and Solomon Island MP is sugesting caution with the name change.  His first name is Yuki.  He generally looks after Japanese veterans who go to Guadalcanal. Maybe this was the name you were queryuing in an earlier email.

His mother was killed in an air raid on Tokyo. I have a lot of respect for him.

John (Innes, Guadalcanal historian and resident)


—–Original Message—–
From:* * * Wilson Maelaua []
Sent: Tuesday, 27 May 2003 7:12
Subject: Re: Tour Costing

John, (Innes)

Refer your email of May 26.  I will get back to you with costing within the next 48hours.

Regarding Henderson issues, Y-Sato was interviewed over SIBC and has cautioned the Department of Infrastructure and also Government to be very cautious with any move to make a name change as it is a very sensitive matter.

I have spoken to Edward Kingmele in the PM’s Office who is working on discouraging a name change.

Tom and Barbara Busby have been in Honiara since Saturday.  Have done Eastern Battlefield, Tulagi then to Vilu Museum this morning before departing this afternoon.


Wilson C. Maelaua


Subj: Fw: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
Date: 5/26/03 11:13:04 PM Central Daylight Time
File: NewsArticle.PDF (108988 bytes) DL Time (45333 bps): < 1 minute
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings from the State of Washington, USA.
I have been reading the messages between you and Ashley Fisher and want to tell you how much the raiders appreciate your assistance on our behalf, particularly with reference to the Vouza fund.
Now, for one more help request.  I have been trying to send the following letter via e-mail to the US Ambassador at Port Moresby,however  it is returned undeliverable, though I obtained the address from the US State Dept. –bummer. The address I used that did not work is  Also have sent the letter via FAX no reply as yet, this just may be a matter of time.  REQUEST: can you obtain a valid e-mail address for the US Embassy in Port Moresby.  Do you have any info. re. that embassy–I simply have to get this letter to the Ambassador/Consular  so I can move forward.  Time may be of the essence.
Again thank you for your assistance.  Chuck Meacham


Subj: Fw: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.
Date: 5/27/03 5:45:05 AM Central Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Ashley W. “Bill” Fisher
—– Original Message —–
From: John Innes
To: ashley Fisher
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 1:09 AM
Subject: FW: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.

Bill, (Fisher)

I just got off the phone to Keithe, our favourite consulate in Honiara and she gave me the briefing as described in my email to Chuck Meacham.

She does make the good point however that the US is spending nothing on aid money on the Solomons and therefore if the Japanese are spending money, who are their friends?. I think this Henderson thing is an opportunity to wake up the ‘sleeping giant’ and remind them that that they do have very solid friends in the Solomons despite the financial neglect.

The Solomons must be unique in liking Americans whereas there are many other countries where America is spending good aid money and not liked! These Solomon friends however are on the bones of their arse and need help.

We also must not relent in our attention to the name issue.

John (INNES)


—–Original Message—–
From: John Innes []
Sent: Tuesday, 27 May 2003 3:54
To: Chuck Meacham
Cc: ashley Fisher
Subject: RE: Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.

Good afternoon Chuck,

The email address I have just been given for Port Moresby is

The latest information (hot off the press as at about five minutes ago) is that the Solomon Islands Prime Minister and the Cabinet do not want a name change. The Prime Minister is reported to have said that the Permanent Secretary, who made the recommendation following the Japanese consultants report, was way out of line suggesting a name change.

I suggest that we do not let up at all however. If this is the Prime Ministers view he must get all the support and commendation we can give him.

I do know that this issue is being addressed by the Embassy in Moresby.

Like you my blood boils at the thought of a change. However to get it into perspective it was a recommendation by a Japanese consulting group advising on aid money to be spent on the airfield not by the Japanese government. I am heartened to see the general feeling amongst Solomon Islanders is that the name stays.

Chuck, we had this fight five years ago when a name change was recommended and we won. When I see you at the San Diego reunion I will tell you how we did that.

I will shortly be visiting all beaches and river crossings that the Raiders were at during the Solomons campaign. (Blue Beach, Tenaru,  Lunga, Tasimboko, Binu, Savo, Matanikau, Aola,  Rice Anchorage, Enogai, Munda etc). I will be collecting sand and taking photos of the sand being collected. I hope to have a bit of an offering at San Diego.

Best Regards

John Innes

(Recent report from John Innes On Guadalcanal)

Subj: Henderson Field
Date: 6/13/03 7:43:50 PM Central Daylight Time


My Report from Cactus:

Got in here last Tuesday and I am still getting all the details. My understanding after talking to the Ministry is that the proposed name change is ‘Honiara International Airport’. There is no current suggestion for a Japanese name and the proposal has yet to go to Cabinet.

I have spoken to the Japanese embassy here and they assure me that no pressure has been applied by them to have a name change. They expressed their surprise at the suggestion for a name change and the furore it is causing. (Investigations are still continuing!). I told them that the popular view here and in Washington was that Japan indeed had put pressure on for a name change. Suggested that he may wish to handle the matter in an appropriate way.

It is heartening to see that local Solomon Islanders are quite vigorous in their desire to retain ‘Henderson’ and are writing to the local paper expressing that view.

I am booked to see the Prime Minister next week to present him our petition and copy of the front page of the Washington Times.

In fact this is a good opportunity for the Solomons to be heard in America and reassure the welcome that American visitors to ‘Henderson’ will get.

Would like his picture and comments confirming his proud retention of the name to be seen by all those who signed the petition.

My current information is that the name change proposal will be rejected by Cabinet however I am not taking this for granted and will continue to pay close attention.

John Innes

Subj: RE: For Details of Renaming Henderson Field

Date: 6/16/03 11:56:17 AM Central Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

As long as the work is credited it is not a problem

Audrey Hudson
National Desk/homeland security reporter
The Washington Times
3600 New York Ave. N.E.
Washington, D.C.
Phone: 202-636-3240
Cell: 202-270-5575
Fax: 202-636-8906

> From:

> Sent: Monday, June 16, 2003 11:47 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: For Details of Renaming Henderson Field
> Audrey,
> I shall keep you informred of further developments
> relevant to the renaming of Henderson Field.
> I would like permission to place the text of your
> 6-11-03 A1 article on this subject on the Raider
> web site. Full credit will be given to you and
> the Washington Times, Can the same permission
> be granted for the picture of the front page?
> Thank you for helping to publicize this information.
> Ervin Kaplan, M. D.


(This Article was published on the front page of the Washingtom Times on june 11, 2003)
By Audrey Hudson

(see artile online at

A proposal to rename Henderson Field on Guadalcanal after Japan’s national
flower – the chrysanthemum – has angered Marines, who say the “revisionist
history” dishonors Americans who fought and died for the pivotal airfield.
Guadalcanal, part of the Solomon Islands, was the site of the Allies’
first Pacific offensive during World War II. After taking the island from
the Japanese in 1942, the 1st Marine Division completed construction of what
is now an international airport for the Solomon Islands.
The Marines named the airstrip for Maj. Lofton Henderson, the first
Marine pilot killed in action by the Japanese during the historic Battle of
A consultant group from Japan, hired by the Solomon Islands’ government,
has proposed that the name be changed to one symbolizing their country. The
consultants are working on restoration projects to make runway and terminal
repairs at the airport, which is frequented by Japanese tourists, according
to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.
The consultants say a more contemporary and recognizable name is needed.

However, more than 5,000 Marines and supporters disagree. Led by the U.S. Marine Raider Association, they have signed a petition to the Solomon Islands’ government protesting the name change. “Anything that is changed after 60 years to promote commercial enterprise or false national pride is revisionist history,” said Dr. Ervin
Kaplan, veteran of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.
“They lost the war. We turned them all the way back to Tokyo,” Dr. Kaplan said. “They didn’t win the war, and they shouldn’t rename it after their national flower.”
The petition was sent to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who also is
being lobbied by members of the Marine Raider Association. Dr. Kaplan said
it appears that Mr. Sogavare may oppose the name change.
“The idea that the airport’s name would be changed would dishonor both
the Allies who served there, and the Japanese who fought on the island, as
it would strip the historical heritage of this important name for future
generations of Solomon Islanders, and travelers who arrive and depart the
country,” the petition said.
“The airfield is synonymous with sacrifice and was arguably one of the
most pivotal airfields in the entire Pacific Campaign, and possibly all of
WWII, as its fall would have compromised the shipping lanes to Australia and
was vital as America’s first offensive in the Pacific,” it said.
The Japanese fought U.S. occupation of the island for six months, and
more than 2,000 Americans were killed. Occupation of the airstrip gave the
Allies military dominance throughout the Pacific during the war and marked
the turnabout of the Japanese advance.
The island today is independently governed and suffering economic
hardships, and the consultants suggest changing the name might boost tourism
and development.
“It won’t help commerce in the islands, it won’t do a thing for them. In
fact, it would be a negative factor,” Dr. Kaplan said.


By Major Ashley W. Fisher, USMCR (ret)
In The Covington Leader, Covington, Tennessee, and
The Millington Star, Millington, Tennessee,

It has been reported that the Prime Minister of Australia has signaled that we will be stationing our military forces on a permanent basis in Australia. Townsville and Rockhampton are the likely locations as thenecessary bases. This pronouncement brought a thinly concealed threat from the President of Indonesia who stated that such action would lead to a “severe reaction in his country, the world’s biggest Muslim population.”

Secretary of Defense has stated this past week that “We have been reviewing our presence around the world.” He also sated that our forces are still arranged as if the Soviet Union still existed. This all follows on the restructuring of our bases in Germany which will result in “hub bases” in eastern Europe and central Asia as well as elsewhere.

Why in the world do we want to set up permanent bases in Australia, which most likely will cost a couple of billion dollars? If our past action is any indication, it won’t be long before there will be all sorts of ancillary activities such as super PX’s, Commissaries, housing and on and on with the Australians benefiting just as the Germans have for fifty plus years.

If we move into the South Pacific area we will be better served if we go where our needs can be met and where we will do the most good. There is such a place just 600 miles east of New Guinea and roughly 1500 miles from the proposed sites. The area we should look at is a place that cost nearly ten thousand American lives, the Solomon Islands. Townsville and Rockhampton the suggested Australian locations are both located on the eastern coast known as the Gold Coast of Australia and is near Brisbane a heavily populated and fast growing area.

There exists near the Solomon Islands capitol, Honiara on the Island of Guadalcanal, a modern well-maintained international level airport. The indigenous population are honest, talented and hard working people. The capitol is a modern city with most amenities needed such as modern hotels, banks, and a modest transportation.

Twenty miles across the sound at Tulagi is one of the finest harbors in the Pacific. A British admiral, Sir Jellico, toured the area in the twenties and stated in his report to the Prime Minister that Tulagi was a better harbor than Singapore. In and around the Islands of the Solomons there is an abundance of deep water. The entire area is a skin diver’s dream and history abounds.

There is an additional benefit and that is to provide a growing economy for a nation whose people went in harm’s way with our navy, Marines and soldiers in World War Two. Of course, the Australians assisted, especially in the terrible fighting in New Guinea and their navy paid a high price in the Solomon Islands. However, we must remember that in the early days of the War most of the Australian fighting men were in North Africa saving the Brits from the German Field Marshal Erin Rommel.

If there is a military need, one in our national interest that calls for permanent bases in the South Pacific, then we have a moral obligation to see that our tax dollars go where they will do the most good.


Newspaper article from the Honolulu Star Bulletin – Sunday, June 22, 2003