A Mugging In Paradise - Hawaii 1973

 

A Mugging In Paradise

 

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Above: Waikiki Surf Side Hotel, 2452 Kalakaua, Waikiki, Hawaii. 96815.
The Hotel Bruce Jackon and I resided at when this incident took place
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HMAS Stuart, RIMPAC, Hawaii, September 1973.

This story contains items of a racial nature but is a necessary inclusion for it to remain a true account of events. If you are offended by terminology used in this article please remember it was at another time and another place and it is not the normal language used by the author but of the parties involved. You may if you wish exit this page now. The facts are true as they happened.RIMPAC is an excercise carried out every year in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Island Group. Where units of allied navies around the 'Pacific Rim' gather at Pearl Harbour, Oahu, to play war games and for sailors like us to have a run ashore in this famous tropical holiday destination.

 

With the exercise completed we were due to head for Maui for some R&R and a run ashore, but then DDG 41, HMAS Brisbane, under the command of CAPT Peter Rees managed to hijack that port visit from us Stuart sailors and we ended up being put into Na Willi Willi on the island of Kauai. Kauai at this stage in history was not exactly a hive of activity so myself and LSWM Bruce Jackson applied for leave and hopped a commercial flight back to Honolulu.

 

We had become regulars at an establishment known as the 'Lemon Tree' Bar which was one of the few "Black Bars" on the Waikiki 'Strip'. David Ochrai and his wife Tee ran a fine establishment with a fine resident soul band playing covers by Sly and the Family Stone, Diana Ross, Temptations etc. Notable employees and friends at the time were waitresses, Maumi (a beautiful Hawaiian Girl), Sandy Jackiw and bouncers Takavassa (an ernormous Samoan) and Cowboy, a tough US Marine who moonlighted from a nearby Marine Barracks. They loved us and were completely in awe of the amount of amber fluid we were able to sock away. I gratefully used Sandy's and Maumis' address at 3/250 Kapili Street Waikiki as my 'address on leave' when I put in my request form, (that is another story though).

 

One balmy Hawaiian evening LSUC Geoff (Andy) Anderson, ABWM 'Jock' McPhail and myself had had a really good session in the 'Cock's Roost' Bar in the International Market Place in Waikiki, it was getting on for 3 AM so we decided to head back to the Lemon Tree Bar to finish the night off. Alas, when we arrived we found the premises closed. There were a number of black Americans loitering around the front of the bar and they approached us. After telling them we were Australian matelots based at Pearl they invited us to a party, where they said, "The would be plenty of ladies, who would love to meet us". We agreed instantly.

At the Lemon Tree Bar - Waikiki - From Left: LSWM Glen Chandler, LSWM Bruce Jackson, ABWM Jock McPail, LSFC Norm Evans and David Ochrai,
the owner, behind the bar.

 

 

Below -

'Maumi' Our favourite waitress at the Lemon Tree Bar

 

maumi

 

We walked a short distance down the main street and turned into a side street where more of these 'hosts' were waiting, I looked back to the intersection and noticed two of them had stationed themselves on each corner and were furtively looking up and down the main drag. I began to get a very bad feeling about this and before we knew it we were physically thrust into a dark, dead-end alleyway. Our newly found mates friendly nature quickly changed and we received a barrage of abuse, shouting at us things like 'White Honky Mother F-----S etc. etc. , they were really going beserk and I began to fear the worst. We were not, as Australians, used this this type of racial hatred or behaviour. We were then ordered to lay our wallets on the ground and when Jock, who had earlier that evening lost his wallet, couldn't produce one, guns were drawn and put to our heads. I tried telling the ring leader that Jock hadn't any wallet or money but he stated clearly, viciously and most obscenely that it was up to us whether we did it "The Hard Way - or - The Easy Way". I had no doubt what the 'Hard Way' was. Jock was by now leaping in the air with arms outstretched above his head yelling, "Don't Shoot! Dont Shoot!". It was about then I figured we were going to die or if not we would be very, very lucky not to receive a severe, life threatening beating. Andy and I had laid our money on the pavement - me $US83.00 and Andy $US50.00. To our amazement they delivered another string of racial abuse at us, snatched up the cash and then disappeared into the night. We were stunned at getting off so lightly, but Andy and I were pretty traumatised, what then possessed Jock I don't know for he looked at us and said "Let's get after them!" and with that took off in pursuit. According to Jock, later he actually caught one of the big buggers but came off second best as he threw Jock off and escaped into the night.

 

Andy and I took off in entirely the opposite direction, we knew not where we were running, we just ran, the adrenalin enabling us to leap tall fences and obstacles, through back yards and apartment buildings, we just kept running. Finally we came out of a side street upon the main street of Wakiki and at that hour of the morning (around 4am now) the entire (Waikiki) beach side of the road was lined with police cars and motorcycles. Andy and I ran across and breathlessly tried to recount our story to a couple of apathetic Police Officers. They asked if we were Australian sailors from Pearl Harbour and of course we replied that indeed we were. They then told us to go back to our ship and report it to our Commanding Officer. We were incredulous! The coppers then turned back to their private conversation and Andy and I dejectedly walked off up the street wondering what in the hell was wrong with Law Enforcement in this bloody country! Just then we heard activity on the police radios emanating from the motorcycles and cars but since we couldn't make out the details we just continued along, we had not gone more than 20 meters when one of the coppers whom we had just spoken to yelled to us to "Get back here!"

 

He shouted "You weren't just with another Aussie guy down there (pointing in the direction where the crime took place) that was robbed by about a dozen n-----rs!" "That's us", I replied. Jock must have gotten through to a different lot of coppers. "Well don't just stand there boy, get in!" He shouted. With that we were bundled into the back of a plain umarked police car and whilst we carried out a tire squealing smoking U turn the passenger copper in the front checked his shotgun load and also his .38 revolver stating as he did so "We'll get those goddamned n-----rs!" Andy and I looked at each other not believing this was really happening.

 

Finally we snaked to halt where, at the scene of the crime, there was a cast of thousands waiting with guns at the ready, lights flashing, radios chattering and apart from Jock, all coppers. We were introduced to the detective handling the case - a great bloke - Detective Lieutenant Fuchigami of the Honolulu PD. We hung about giving details and descriptions of our muggers and then Leut Fuchigami drove us to Honolulu Police HQ where we were to be interviewed further and look at mug shots.

 

Once we arrived Honolulu Police HQ Lieut Fuchigami decided to dispense with the formality of issuing us with clip-on visible Temp IDs, warned us to stick at his side at all times and with that in we went. This multi story building was a rabbit warren of rooms and corridors and whilst being escorted through I stopped to looked at some glass cabinet display cases full of illegal, confiscated weapons and looked up to find the party I was with had disappeared. I continued walking on in the general direction peering in room to room when a detective rounded a corner, spotted me in my dishevelled state with no ID and quickly assumed the firing position with what looked like a .45 Automatic Colt pistol, sreaming at me to "Freeze" and put my hands above my head or I'll shoot! Detectives came from everywhere with guns drawn, cocked and pointed at me. Every single one of them was barking instructions at me. I stood rigidly at attention my arms stretched above my head, not knowing what to do next and thinking twice in one night is getting a little too much! Fuchigami, Jock and Andy came running around the corner, he ordered the weapons to be put way and then grabbed hold of me and gave me a fair dinkum tongue lashing for having a 'Death Wish' and being a super F---------G idiot!

 

Finally we looked at mug shots and we all identified the three main ring leaders of the gang. Unfortunately Lt Fuchigami explained that the case could take months to come to court and that under Hawaiian State Law unless we could be in court when the case came up then it was useless for them to be charged - we were due to depart Hawaii in three days.

 

However on a brighter note we were also informed that they were arrested within 20 minutes of when the crime took place for Jock had, as it turned out, managed to stumble upon an efficient copper after his pursuit of one of the muggers had ended in failure. Low and behold they turned out to be US Sailors, part of the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk. Race relations in the US Military during this era was pretty bad and Kittyhawk itself had had a large full scale 'Race Riot' aboard her quite recently. Fuchigami informed us that the muggers were handed over to the US Armed Forces Police and their lockers on the ship were searched and turned up illegal weapons and contraband. Lieutenant Fuchigami and us three became good friends in this short time and he sympathised that no civil legal action could be pursued so he therefore broke the rules of the force and gave us the three ring leaders names, for whatever reason, maybe to exact some personal retribution - I still remember them like it was yesterday - Kenneth McDaniels, Rodney Robinson and Gary Bradshaw. If you are still alive fellars, I harbour no grudges except that with todays exchange rate plus interest you would certainly owe me alot of money - and by the way thanks for letting me live to tell the tale.