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Posted 4/17/2014

Release no. 14-014

By Joseph Bonfiglio
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs

HONOLULU - Led by Honolulu District Commander, Lt. Col. Thomas D. Asbery, over 30 District teammates and their friends and partners hiked to Makapu’u Lighthouse at sunrise on April 14 to celebrate the 109th anniversary of the District’s founding.

Former Pacific Ocean Commander Retired Army Col. Edward Kertis and former Honolulu District FEST-A Team Member Bill Hollingsworth also joined the hike to the lighthouse as well as District Counsel Robyn Au. In addition, Capt. Jerrauld S. Ma and Deputy District Commander MAJ Brennan V. Wallace also made the hike.

Lt. Col. Asbery unveiled the newly minted Honolulu District coin at the lighthouse. The coin is rich in symbolism and a proud display of military culture and tradition.  Its oval shape resembles a vintage employees’ badge which was once worn by all District personnel.

The Corps’ history in Hawaii and the Pacific began in 1905 when Lt. Slattery became the District’s first commander. His original mission was to construct lighthouses for navigation, like Makapu’u. 

Makapu’u Lighthouse was built by the Corps in 1909 on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapu’u Beach in southeast Oahu. Makapu’u Point is an important location passed by all ships moving between Honolulu and the U.S. Mainland.

The critical need for this light was demonstrated in August 1906 when the 27,000-ton S.S. Manchuria ran up on a reef off the point. Congress had already appropriated $60,000 for the light on October 1, 1909.

The lens for this light was one of the wonders of the Pacific. Press clips of the time noted that the lens, which had been exhibited at the Jamestown Exposition, was one of the most expensive in the world.

The lighthouse is 46-feet-tall (14 meters) and was fully automated in 1974.  It is still an active U.S. Coast Guard navigation aid in use today. 

As “America’s Engineers in the Pacific,” the District's civil works, military construction and environmental missions evolved over time -- in periods of peace and war -- for over 100 years.

Today, the Honolulu District is a full-service District, providing a wide range of timely, effective, innovative solutions to meet our customers’ engineering, construction and environmental needs.

The Honolulu District has seven primary missions: Military Construction, Civil Works, Interagency and International Services, Real Estate, Regulatory, Environmental Services, and Emergency Management.

Honolulu District offers project management, design, construction management, contracting, cost engineering, and more.

The Honolulu District's area of operations is enormous - crossing five time zones, the international dateline and approximately 12 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean - and includes the territories of Guam, American Samoa and CNMI as well as the Freely Associated States including the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.