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Whoowee, check this out. I was plucked out of the jungles in Vietnam by helicopter late one evening. We didn't have a landing zone so they dropped down a cable with a shoulder strap to hoist me up outta the jungles into a chopper.

We got word about 30 minutes out that a chopper was arriving to pick me up and take me to a landing zone (LZ) somewhere. No one knew what was going on except that I needed to get my okole on this chopper because the big kahuna (Division Commander) said I had to. You just gotta do what they tell you. So I gathered up all my ukana and was hoisted up into the chopper.

I was taken to an undisclosed location in the night where I was told that a fix wing air plane was to transfer me to Nha Trang, Viet Nam. Still not knowing what was going on, I tried to get answers where I was going but know one had any clue. I was a good soldier, I just followed orders and waited to see what would happen.

As the plane landed on the run way at Nha Trang, the plane taxied to about 200 meters from the main terminal. To pick me up they sent an old Army Jeep (M151) you know da kine old army jeep we used in the coffee fields back in Kona to hall the coffee bags to the mill?

Dea insae the terminal was five Hawaiian entertainers, two lovely hula dancers Kilauea Marciel and Alicia Davis and along side them stood Joseph (Sonny) Nicholas, and uncle Don Kualii. Lo and behold! Right next to uncle Don stood my fuddah Bill Keanaaina! Woowee! I cannot explain the chicken skin I had all ova my body. I stay in shock and the same time da wata was rolling down my cheeks. I was speechless for the first time in my life. Than I heard my fuddah say to me "What brah! Can I get a hug" and because my legs were mau to the floa my dad approached me and we hugged for a long time. Then the rest of the group started hugging and of course the Hawaiian kiss on the cheek followed.

Now all da introductions was done and I got my composure back. Da first thing that came otta my mouth was "What are you guys doing here?" My fuddah told me how Mr. Bryan G. Moon, the vice president at Aloha Airlines, politically won approval to bring ALOHA (first time ever) to the soldiers in Vietnam.

Da group was dea for two weeks, until my fuddah met up with General Larsen (local boy) and complained to him that he was already two weeks in Vietnam and has yet to meet his son! And so he, being one of da big kahunas, made magic and this is the rest of my story.

That evening the group entertained the soldiers for an hour in the Officer's Club. The lovely Kilauea and Alicia in their real ti leaf skirts danced many numbers for the soldiers. The guys sang Hawaiian songs to bring Hawai'iana to that special evening. The reaction from the audience was overwhelming. The local boys in the audience hollered "hana hou" and then the entire audience caught on and kept chanting "hana hou, hana hou" and the group played on for an additional hour.

In a mess hall (dining area) in Saigon while the ladies were dancing it started raining and the wata was getting ankle deep up to their knees. Kilauea and Alicia kept on dancing to the musicians standing behind them propped up on a makeshift dinner table. They didn't skip a beat and the show went on.

At one night in Pleiku rain beat down so hard on the tin roof of the 71st Evac Hospital the musicians could hardly be heard but the show went on. The girls did their audacious audience participation with their kolohe movements along with the soldiers dancing to the "Hukilau" song. At times there wasn't enough room for the soldiers to go up there to dance so they danced out there in the audience. As I looked at the faces of the soldiers and at that particular moment I believe they all forgot that they were in a combat zone and so did the entertainers.

At Phu Cat (Air Force Base) while they entertained the troops a Korean artillery team fired their 105mm howitzers (BAMM!!!) on a suspected Viet Cong position in the mountain near the base, the musicians jumped along with the girls but the girls kept on dancing without skipping a beat. I found out later that there, in the mountains was an Army Long Range Reconnaissance Team sent out to keep the USO entertainers safe. They saw movements and called in artillery support. (Red leg one, Red leg one, enemy position at ___ fire for effect). That's army jargon for we need artillery support for enemy in movement. That there, gave the entertainers a taste of life in a combat zone.

Two pretty girls and three musicians from Hawaii were doing two shows a day. They were transported by helicopter to bases in cities and in the jungles. It didn't matter to them where they entertained because it was an experience they would never experience again. The hot, sticky, wet miserable conditions made it even more exciting to the group. Bringing a piece of Aloha was all that mattered.

This all started with the 25th Division, Aviation (helicopter) Detachment at Pleiku calling themselves "Aloha Airlines" and attaching island names to everything they had. It was this division that dreamed up this idea of bringing Hawaii to Vietnam. For the local boys there, they were excited and ecstatic with joy. We had group hugs and kisses, giving them the shaka sign. One brudda said "howzit" to me and when I looked at him, he looked haole, but he was from Nanakuli, the bruddas dea called him haole boy!

This story broked out on Friday July 28, 1967 in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on page B-1. The topic was Hawaiian Troupe Boosts Morale of Troops in Vietnam. The second topic was; Entertainer Pays a Visit to his Son in Vietnam. Before the troupe departed to Vietnam they visited the local boys at Tripler Army Hospital only to be more determined to travel to South Vietnam to bring a piece of mind to all the brave soldiers there.

About Author

Stacey Keanaaina was born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua, Kona, Hawaii along with two other brothers and three sisters, he graduated from Konawaena High School in 1965. He joined the Army in February 1966. He married his German fraulein and had two children, Stacey II and Pricilla. Retired with 26 years of active service and he is working as a Department of the Army Civilian (16 years) recently working for the National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington VA. His plans are to return to Germany in the near future and retire for the second time. He enjoys traveling, playing racquetball, running, skiing and attending motorcycle rally's throughout Europe.

W. Robertson
I'm glad to have found this posting, having gotten to know Bryan Moon in the last few years prior to his recent passing. You'll be happy to know that his contribution to bringing some happiness to you in a war zone was just one in a long line of wonderful and memorable things this man did in his quite remarkable lifetime.
I will miss him greatly.

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