Maui News

Opening of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum exhibit: LAND SEA AIR: Maui in Wartime

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The story of the pilot training that took place at Puʻunēnē field during WWII and throughout the island of Maui has been captured in a new exhibit at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island, Oʻahu. The exhibit will be dedicated on Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 1:30 p.m. in Historic Hangar 37.

Called LAND SEA AIR: Maui in Wartime, the exhibit shares the story of the thousands of soldiers who honed their aerial combat skills before heading to battle. The exhibit combines oral history, personal displays, historic photos and videos, and stories narrated by the survivors themselves. This exhibit is the first phase of a larger effort planned over the coming years.

By one report, more than 20,000 WWII pilots were trained at the Puʻunēnē 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 Hawaiʻi in preparation for the landings at Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.


Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Director of Exhibits, Restoration and Curatorial Services, Rod Bengston, said, “A central story incorporated into this exhibit references the support extended by the Von Tempsky family. Using their ranch, the family extended badly needed rest and relaxation to pilots, Marines, soldiers, and others before they launched into battle.”

Many of these service members, out of gratitude and camaraderie, signed the wall in the Von Tempsky home. 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, Florida where it is now displayed, unavailable to Hawaiʻi residents and visitors.

A full-scale rendering of the wall, along with many other stories that may have been forgotten to all but a few, are now shared at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum as part of the new Maui in Wartime exhibit. Debbie Von Tempsky will be present at the dedication of this exhibit, along with Alan DeCoite, Maui resident credited with the saving of this wall when the property was sold.


Made possible by an anonymous donor, this new exhibit is included with Museum admission.

About Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is located on Historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s mission is to steward American’s first aviation battlefield of World War II. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that depends on membership, volunteers, and donations for support. More information is available online at


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