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Bolos of the Kauai Volunteers


gunbarrel
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Kaua'i is the northern-most island of the main Hawaiian Islands. At the beginning of WWII, it was very rural, sparsely populated, and considered a very likely spot for a Japanese invasion force to land. To supplement the defense forces of the island, in March 1942 the Hawaiian Department authorized three battalions of Kauai Volunteers.

 

This force consisted of four companies per battalion, a service department and three mounted units. Ninety percent of the regiment of 2,500 was Filipino. As it can be seen on these pictures from Google LIFE, these troops were well dressed and well equipped. They were funded locally; for example, in June 1943 the Kauai Post of the American Legion raised over $25,000 for fatigues and shoes, which were very similar to the US Army uniform at the time (notice the unit shoulder patches).

 

The reason for this post featuring a unique American home guard unit is that the regiment was also authorized to carry the feared Filipino bolo.

 

A bolo is a large agricultural cutting tool from the Philippines similar to the machete and like the machete, the bolo has also been used for generations as a weapon.

 

However, unlike machetes which traditionally have been factory-made, authentic bolos are handmade. In the case of the ones used by the Kauai Volunteers, the blades were made from old automobile springs and they sported fancy personalized handles thus no two bolos were alike. Notice on the pictures that even the officers (mostly retired US military men) wore bolos on their belt.

 

This post is collaboration by Charlie Flick, Frank Trzaska and me. If anyone has more information to add, please, be our guest!

 

post-70-1270269113.jpg

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Charlie Flick

Hey GB:

 

Nice job bringing together all elements of this previously unknown story. I think those Filipino/Hawaiian bolos are pretty neat and as far as I know they have never been accurately described before. I suspect that there may be some still floating around on Kauai with their history lost. They would certainly make an interesting addition to a US military blade collection. Any members here from Hawaii ever run across one of these blades?

 

Regards,

Charlie Flick

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Salvage Sailor

Thanks for posting this excellent set of photos. Much of my family is from Molokai & Lanai, and though I've been aware of the Kauai Volunteers I've never come across any of their indigenous Bolos, uniforms, ephemera, etc. I agree that there may be a few Bolos still around that have not been worn to the nub by 60 odd years of field/yard work, but the odds of someone coming across one AND knowing exactly what it is ......

 

Well, there's the challenge, eh?

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I agree... this is an excellent set of photos and really high quality.

 

You can clearly see from post #16 that each and every bolo had a different shape. Are there any special markings placed on the bolos to denote use by the Kauai Volunteers? It would be interesting to see an actual bolo that was used by the volunteers.

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