October 21, 2019

We present our plans in Canberra with great success.

Our recent trip to Canberra was a great success for us as it provided us with the opportunity to essentially pitch the Museum to a number of key figures in Canberra. Each of the people were selected for their potential to add value to the Museum project in some way. Those people were, Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Assistant Defence Minister and Mr John Hennessey-Niland Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy. Here is a brief rundown of each of those meetings.

Dr Brendan Nelson
Director, Australian War Memorial

From left to right, Committee Member Steve Turner, Project Manager
James Carter, AWM Director Dr Brendon Nelson and Museum
Chairman Brad Wood.

We met with Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday October 16. We spent around an hour with him, introducing the project and discussing a range of topics, including how we might be able to partner with the War Memorial in some way and draw upon their extensive museum experience.
We left Dr Nelson’s office with new ideas, new directions and a clearer idea of where we should be heading in these early development stages. Having the opportunity to discuss our project with the Director of one of the truly great museums of the world was a rare opportunity indeed.

Hon Alex Hawke MP
Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Assistant Defence Minister

On Thursday we met with the Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Assistant Defence Minister. He was extremely interested in every aspect of the Museum project and as a result, made many suggestions as to how we might move the project forward.
He was one of the most committed and enthusiastic people we could hope to meet. We came away from that meeting full of ideas and will certainly be in touch with the minister – at his suggestion – again in the very near future.

From left to right, Museum Chairman Brad Wood, Hon Alex Hawke MP
Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Deputy
Defence Minister, Committee Member Steve Turner and Project Manager James Carter.

Mr John Hennessey-Niland
Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy

From left to right, Museum Chairman Brad Wood and Project Manager
James Carter outside the US Embassy in Canberra.

On Friday we attended a meeting at the U.S. Embassy. We met with Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr John Hennessey-Niland. He was also very enthusiastic about our project and offered to assist us in any way he and the Embassy could.
We talked about the possibility of introductions to relevant museums, organisations, and corporates. John said that once the South Pacific WWII Museum is in a position to develop a list of people we would like to approach in the United States, to get in contact again. The Embassy in Canberra will liaise with its counterpart in PNG that is also responsible for Vanuatu, to facilitate introductions for us in the United States.

August 11, 2019

Bank South Pacific re-signs as a Navara supporter

We would like to thank Bank South Pacific, and its general manager Nik Regenvanu, for re-signing for a second year as a member of the Museum Navara Fund.

The generous support of BSP Bank has helped us run our popular mini museum and project office in Luganville, and to carry out activities as we progress our fundraising aims. Elwood J Euart Chairman Bradley Wood received the Navara second year re-signing from the Luganville branch of BSP manager, Edwige Wensi.

BSP Logo.

Cheque handover at Project Office.
Chairman Bradley Wood with BSP Luganville manager Edwige Wensi.

We were delighted to give a small something in return – a framed silver medallion pressed from an authentic wartime die that the Museum holds. The medallion is handsomely framed with a picture taken during wartime of US soldiers and Ni-Vanuatu on a tank.

BSP is a leading bank in the South Pacific, and has branches across six countries in the region.

The bank has as its motto Our Culture is Our Strength, and their support is helping us develop an important cultural asset for the people of Vanuatu.

Our Navara Fund is named after the bislama for coconut seedling, and is a local and meaningful name for our seed fund.

Brad hands over a gift to BSP.
Bradley thanks Edwidge with a framed medallion from the Museum.

A close up of the Museum's gift to BSP.
The Navara thank you medallion framed with a wartime picture.

July 26, 2019

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister show
their support for Museum Project

Recently, cinematographer and director Karl von Moller and Museum Project Manager James Carter travelled to Port Vila to film Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salwai and Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trades. The filming which took place at the wonderful Breakas Beach Resort at Port Vila was part of a video the Museum Project is putting together to assist with the Museum’s fundraising program. The Prime Minister and Mr. Regenvanu were extremely generous with their time and we thank them most sincerely for squeezing us into their busy schedules.

Vanuatu Prime Minister.

Ralph Regenvanu.

The short film in which they’ll appear is going to be sent to a key potential supporter of the Museum project. If and when that support comes to fruition, we’ll make further announcements later in the year.

July 24, 2019

Air Vanuatu supports Museum filming

Earlier in July, the Museum team embarked on an ambitious filming project to assist with not only our fundraising plans, but to create fascinating filmed content that will appear on the Museum’s website and in social media.

Australian cinematographer and director Karl von Moller travelled from Australia with Museum Project Manager James Carter to film the 18 short films and 1 longer content film. With a great deal of fragile gear to ship, the Museum turned to Navara sponsor Air Vanuatu to ensure everything arrived safely.

Breakas Night.

Breakas Aerial.

With some of the filming occurring on Efate and the majority on Santo, it meant a number of international and domestic flights to ensure the filming schedule remained on track. “Air Vanuatu were marvellous”, said James. “We were met at the airport to ensure there were no issues with our luggage and the whole shoot couldn’t have gone smoother.”

The Museum would like to thank Jeff Murdoch, General Manager Commercial and Paul Pio, Manager Marketing & Communications from Air Vanuatu for all their assistance in making everything go so smoothly for the film crew.

The videos that were created in Vanuatu will be released one by one over the coming weeks and months on the Museum’s social media pages and website.

July 24, 2019

Breakas Beach Resort assists Museum with filming

The Museum’s recent filming of the Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salwai and Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trades took them to Breakas Beach Resort in Port Vila.

Breakas Night.

The resort was chosen for its idyllic South Pacific atmosphere and tropical island ambience. Film makers Karl von Moller and James Carter from Australia, were seeking the quintessential resort-like backdrop particularly for the Prime Minister’s portion of the short film being shot on behalf of the Museum. “Breakas was just stunning and the perfect place to shoot”, said Karl. “It offered us so many possibilities and what we chose as a location was absolutely perfect.”

Breakas Aerial.

The Museum is very grateful to Breakas Resort for all their assistance to ensure the filming went so smoothly. We would particularly like to thank Breakas General Manager Isaac Boyle and Food and Beverage Manager Roy Ernst who went out of their way to accommodate us during our visit.

If you’d like to find out more about Breakas Beach Resort at Port Vila, visit their website at breakas.com

April 19, 2019

TVL signs on as our latest Navara Sponsor.

Vanuatu telecommunications company TVL is the latest company to become a member of the South Pacific World War II Museum’s Navara Fund. TVL has signed a three-year contract with the Museum to provide high-speed communications services to the Museum project office in Luganville, Espiritu Santo.The Museum's Interactive map on show

Seven companies or individuals have now joined the Navara Fund, which has been created to support the running costs of the project office and its fundraising efforts. Project manager Alma Wensi says TVL is a great partner for the Museum. “Our vision is for a Museum that has modern information technology and is interactive for our young generation. The Museum's Interactive map on showWe look forward to working with TVL as a telecommunications leader in Vanuatu.” Mr Wensi says the Navara package provided to the Museum office is a great help. Fast broadband makes it easier for us to talk to the world and showcase our progress and vision. So TVL is very much making a difference for us.”

Mr Barlen Lutchmoodoo Chief Execuitve of TVL says it’s great to be associating with the Museum project.

“We are a company that deals every day with the changes in technology and the differences we can make to people’s lives. This is a project that is ambitious to do the same, and we are proud to be associating with it. TVL is committed to connecting the people of Vanautu with each other and the outside world, and there is exciting work underway to keep on improving our service.”

Alma Wensi says the TVL agreement comes very soon after the national carrier Air Vanuatu signed up for a second year of Navara Fund membership, and Henry Cumines Ltd became the sixth new member.

The Museum's Interactive map on show“We’re delighted that the Fund is growing as more companies want to be associated with the excitement of our project. The Navara Fund is a way they can be in on the ground floor and look to partner further with us when the Museum is built.”

If you’d like to become a Navara Fund member, contact Alma Wensi at info@southpacificworldwariimuseum.com

June 3, 2019

The sad passing of a special friend to us all.

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of South Pacific World War II Museum Manager Alma Wensi on Saturday May 25.

Alma came to the Museum project quite early in its development and very soon was running it with the drive and passion we all came to know so well. But Alma was more than just the Museum Manager. On many levels he was the guiding light behind the project, with a generosity and kindness that will be greatly missed by everyone he came in contact with.

Alma’s keen business acumen was spotted very early on by Museum President Bradley Wood, who employed Alma to run the Museum following his time in the tourism and telecommunication sectors. It didn’t take Alma long to grasp the enormity of the challenge that lay ahead – a challenge he relished every day. The sponsors we’ve attracted to the project, the donations and support we’ve garnered from the Vanuatu Government, were all thanks to the extraordinary hard work of Alma.

And yet Alma was more than just the Museum Manager. He was the joyous smiling face that greeted visitors from around the world when they arrived at the mini-museum and Project Office. His knowledge of local history fascinated visitors from all around the world, with tales of the famous and not so famous who came through Espiritu Santo, particularly throughout the war years.

Alma was a devoted family man. His love for his wife Edwige and daughter Amirah was only matched by his faith and devotion to the Centenary Presbyterian Church in Luganville. There Alma was a leader, especially involved with a flourishing youth group.

Alma was one of those people you meet once in a lifetime. His generosity and love for those around him was undeniable and unforgettable. His passing will leave a huge hole in our lives and those beyond Vanuatu’s beautiful tropical shores. His kind heart and gentle soul, will never be forgotten and likewise all he did for the South Pacific World War II Museum project.

Goodbye dear friend and god be with you.

Alma Wensi & Bob Hill

January 24, 2019

Chief of Australian Defence Force presents flag to Museum

The South Pacific World War II Museum has been greatly honoured with the presentation of a flag by Australia’s Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, AO, DSC.

General Campbell made the presentation to Elwood J Euart Association chairman Bradley Wood and Museum Project Manager Alma Wensi during a function hosted by the Australian High Commission in Port Vila on Monday night.

The Chief of Defence Force (CDF) is the senior ranked officer in Australia’s armed forces, representing the navy, army and air force. The role is shared between the three services and a senior officer from one of the other two services assumes the role when a new CDF is appointed.

General Campbell’s visit to Vanuatu was to mark Australia’s commitment to the security of the nation and the fostering of stronger relationships in the future.

Australia’s High Commissioner, H.E. Jenny Da Rin, kindly invited the Museum to attend the function, which also included the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trades Hon Ralph Regenvanu, and the Internal Affairs Minister Hon Andrew Napuat.

General Campbell spoke positively of the Museum.  He had been surprised to learn from Bradley Wood about the string of famous people who had been linked by wartime to the island of Espiritu Santo – names such as John F Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, and Gene Roddenberry.

Besides presenting an Australian flag that will fly outside the Museum project office in Luganville, General Campbell also gifted the museum several commemorative coins symbolizing the three armed services that he oversees.

The Museum had its own special gift for General Campbell – a reproduction of a sketch by famous US wartime artist Howard Brodie. It shows an Australian sergeant major during training of members of the New Hebrides Defence Force in 1943. The print, the original of which is held by the US Library of Congress, was handsomely mounted in a rosewood frame hand-made by Bradley Wood.

The museum team was able to chat with General Campbell and members of his staff, and tell them more about our project.

The South Pacific World War II Museum would like very much to thank General Campbell and his team, the High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin, and her staff for making us part of a memorable night.

April 7, 2019

Henry Cumines is our new Navara supporter.

The South Pacific World War II Museum is excited to announce its latest Navara Fund member – Australian company, Henry Cumines Ltd. The Sydney based company started in 1966 as an export merchant specialising mainly with the Asia Pacific region.

The company has strong links to Vanuatu and has been an early supporter of the Museum project. The Museum Manager Alma Wensi says Henry Cumines is now building on that by becoming a full Navara Fund member. “We’d like to thank them for this show of confidence in our work. The Navara Fund lets local and international businesses and individuals show their commitment to our vision.”

David Lum and Alma Wensi

Helder Rodrigues of Henry Cumines Ltd says that the company founder, Mr Henry Cumines originally began traveling to the South Pacific region in 1946 before opening his own company in 1966. “During this time, he provided assistance and pioneered many trade missions to Vanuatu and many other South Pacific Nations by exporting high quality goods such as  foodstuffs, medical supplies, general supplies and equipment from Australia and New Zealand. This helped these nations grow and rebuild after such an epic world event as World War II. We believe it is our turn to give something back to our South Pacific neighbors especially Vanuatu which has shown tremendous support to our company over the many years and to secure the history that brought us all together in the way of a museum for the next generations to appreciate.”

The Navara Fund supports the museum project office and mini-museum in Luganville, and its wider fundraising work. The present Navara Fund members are Air Vanuatu, BSP Bank, Tropex Exports, the Thiele Boys and Bob Hill.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Navara Fund and becoming a member, please contact Alma Wensi at info@southpacificworldwariimuseum.com

April 10, 2019

It’s takeoff for year two of Museum sponsorship.

Air Vanuatu is pursuing its support towards the South Pacific World War II Museum in Luganville, Espiritu Santo. As the first local private business to partner up with the Museum’s Navara Fund in 2018, the national carrier has shown interest and recommitted for another consecutive year.

Alma Wensi at the sponsorship signingMuseum project manager Alma Wensi says it’s wonderful to have a leading Vanuatu company showing its backing. “We’ve been able to support our fundraising efforts thanks to Air Vanuatu, including helping build understanding about our project with local people. It is also a vote of confidence from a tourism leader in our goal of becoming a significant tourism attraction for Vanuatu and Espiritu Santo.”

Jeffrey Murdoch, Air Vanuatu’s General Manager Commercial, says the airline is focused on growing and bringing additional visitors into Vanuatu. “This Museum project is ambitious for the future of our tourism, and our national prosperity, and as such we are proud to help
its progress.”

A six-minute informational video was produced in 2018 and is currently available on Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737-800 inflight entertainment. Alma Wensi says many visitors who came to the Museum reported having seen the video onboard. More than 2000 international and 3000 local people have visited the project’s mini museum in Luganville in its first full year. Jeffrey Murdoch and Alma Wensi at the sponsorship signing“As the first carrier of choice for entry into Vanuatu, we are very grateful to Air Vanuatu for showcasing and spreading the message. The Museum gives the travelers another reason to keep coming back and to visit our islands.”

The Navara Fund is a seed fund set up to allow local and overseas businesses to support the project office and the costs of fundraising for the Museum. There are five Navara Fund members and a sixth is due to be announced very soon.

If you are interested in becoming a Navara Fund member, please contact The South Pacific World War II Museum’s General Manager Alma Wensi at info@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

The South Pacific World War II Museum project office and mini-museum is open weekdays 8am to 5pm in Unity Park, Luganville. Phone 37000.

April 1, 2019

How do you hide a battleship from the enemy?

One of the wonderful things about the people of Espiritu Santo, is their generosity. Particularly when it comes to donations to the Museum project. Our Museum Chairman Bradley Wood has done it again and secured a pair of US Navy Smoke tanks for the Museum. The tanks were found near an old gate leading to what would have been Bomber Airfield No. 1 over at Palikulo Bay. The owner was only too happy to donate them to us.

Unloading the Smoke Tank.

Of course, one must ask what was a US Navy Mark V Smoke Tank used for? According to a document entitled ‘Navy Department Bureau of Ordnance Aircraft Chemical Smoke and Vesicant, July 1943,’ it was used to create massive smoke screens to hide US Naval activity from the Japanese. These particular tanks were filled with a chemical simply called ‘FS’. Further reading of the document tells us that, ‘FS is a sulphur trioxide-chloroaulfonic acid mixture which weighs approximately 15.8 pounds per gallon. FM smoke mixture (titanium tetrachloride) may also be used; its weight is approximately 14.5 pounds per gallon.’

Our two 50-gallon tanks are 67 inches long, 19 inches in diameter and the complete tank weighs 947 lbs. when filled with 727 lbs. of FS. It ejects smoke for a period of about 25 to 80 seconds. The US Navy also fitted huge smoke screen tanks to their patrol boats and given their great speed, could put up a huge smoke screen in a matter of minutes, depending upon weather conditions and the number of boats laying down the screen.

The museum would like to sincerely thank all those that have provided items for the museum so far. Your generosity is most appreciated, and we look forward to finding the perfect home for your pieces, when the museum opens its doors.

The ID plate on the smoke tank.

If you have something you’d like to donate, we’d love to hear from you. Museum Manager Alma Wensi can be contacted at info@southpacificwwiimuseum.com

November 20, 2018

Museum Meets With Australian & New Zealand
High Commissioners

South Pacific World War II Museum Founding Chairman Bradley Wood and Museum Manager Alma Wensi recently travelled to Port Vila to meet with the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand. The purpose of the meetings was to bring the High Commissioners up to date on recent progress with the Museum project.

Australian High Commissioner

Australian High Commissioner Jenny Da Rin meeting with Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trades Ralph Regenvanu.

The Australian High Commissioner Ms Jenny Da Rin, was accompanied by Lieutenant Commander, Kylie Turnbull from the Royal Australian Navy. Kylie is an Adviser to Maritime Surveillance based in Port Vila, under the Defence Cooperation Program. Being a member of the Australian Defence Force, she had a keen interest in the museum project.

The High Commissioner is fully supportive of the South Pacific World War II Museum project and was most impressed by the Business and Strategic Plan that we have developed as a roadmap for the museum project, moving forward. She was also impressed by the progress we’ve made particularly with achieving Vanuatu Government endorsement. Ms Da Rin recognises the benefits the Museum will bring to tourism on Santo and its role in preserving the nation’s history.

The High Commissioner has also offered the Museum her assistance in making contact with relevant government departments and organisations in Australia who may be of benefit to us.

New Zealand High Commissioner, Jonathan Schwass and Ricky Lee, Tourism Programme Manager at the New Zealand High Commissioner’s office also met with Bradley and Alma in Port Vila. Mr Schwass has a personal interest in the museum project and has recently purchased a Willy’s Jeep in Port Vila. His office is supportive of the ongoing volunteer support through Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) New Zealand, to help with the museum’s development, fundraising and the museum’s future.

The High Commissioner was also interested in discussing the specific makeup of the Museum and the displays we had planned. Bradley and Alma outlined their vision for the cultural aspects the museum might contain along with their broader vision of encompassing not just Santo’s role in the Pacific Theatre but other Pacific island regions such as the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal.

Following the discussions, the High Commissioner reinforced his support for the project and also agreed to facilitate contacts in New Zealand who may be of assistance to the Museum project. He concluded with an offer to provide him with any specific proposals we may have and he will investigate how the New Zealand High Commission can assist.

The trip to Port Vila also included meetings with significant business identities, companies and government departments, including  the Vanuatu Department of Strategic Policy Planning and Aid Coordination (DSSPAC).

New Zealand High Commissioner

New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Schwass.

The museum would like to thank most sincerely the High Commissioner for Australia, Ms Jenny Da Rin, the High Commissioner for New Zealand, Mr Jonathan Schwass and those who gave up their time to meet with Bradley and Alma to discuss the museum project with them.

February 28, 2019

The passing of a ‘Living Legend’

James Gwero, who did an enormous amount of work to preserve the Ni Vanuatu memories of World War II, passed away in February 2019.

His legacy is the famous Bislama oral history, Big Wok, published in 1998. James, who was born in 1929, joined with United States anthropology professor Lamont Lindstrom and others to gather stories for the book.

Professor Lindstrom, who is also a member of the South Pacific WWII Museum, says he is deeply saddened by James Gwero’s passing.

“We worked hard to talk with more than 120 men and women in 1988 and 1989, to record their stories of World War II. James took me to Nabangahake village in Ambae, his home village, and in 1990 he came to be with me in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“When we were in Hawaii, he worked to transcribe these stories and sort out the relevant parts to insert in Big Wok.

“I think James enjoyed the opportunity to travel to Hawaii. We visited the Arizona Memorial, where the Japanese planes bombed USA warships. We had beach picnics a lot of times when we were there, as tourists, visiting places.

“In 2006, we both spoke to all field workers in a VKS (Vanuatu Cultural Center) workshop in Vila. We both talked about our work, and James talked about World War II history.”

James Gwero with his book 'Big Wok'

James Gwero with a copy of Big Wok.

Big Wok included examples of local songs about the wartime experience. This excerpt is from a song about Shepherd Islands and North Efate men recruited to do the initial clearing of what today is Bauerfield airfield.

Tai manga tu do dongo

Vakalo Endo paitalevanimaramana

Ma tedoumaipakikuengida

 E awi re tetungavaeesava

Brothers we used to hear about the war

On the other side of the world.

But it is coming to our country

Where are we going to go?

James Gwero at the opening of the Museum Project Office

James Gwero as guest of honour in October 2017 at the opening of the South Pacific World War II project office.

In October 2017, James was a guest of honour at the opening of our Museum project office in Luganville, joining US embassy deputy chief of mission Mary Drake and then Minister of Lands Ralph Regenvanu to cut the ribbon.  It was fitting that he be part of our mission to further bring to life the history he has done such much to preserve.

James Gwero’s work leaves the history of Vanuatu immensely richer, and will be invaluable to the South Pacific World War II museum in telling our Ni Vanuatu stories. We thank him for his work and his legacy.

March 28, 2019

Santo from a fresh perspective.

The South Pacific World War II Museum are proud to announce that Australian company Mapdiva have come on board to provide us with their award winning mapping/cartography software, Ortelius. This amazing Mac based program will give us the ability to create fantastic maps of Santo to help visitors navigate the historical points of interest around the island.

Ortelius is a unique professional creativity app that’s a hybrid between a vector drawing program and a geographic information system, though Ortelius is nothing like a complex GIS application.

It adds tailored functionality for map design, with connectable track tools, a powerful style engine, a huge library of styles & map symbols, as well as a range of templates if you just want to jump straight in. If you’ve ever tried making a map in a standard drawing program, it can be hit or miss and incredibly tedious. But this is so easy to use. We completed a base map of south east Santo in a couple of hours and it looks like a professional map or something from a GPS. It means you can push all that complex GIS mapping to one side and concentrate on creating a great looking map.

So a big thanks again to Mapdiva for assisting us and when we have something ready to go, we’ll post it on the website and social media. If you want to know more about Ortelius (like where the unusual name came from), you can visit them at https://www.mapdiva.com/ortelius/

Map

Map

Dún Laoghaire 1910 and 1957 by Michael J. Walsh

January 10, 2019

Kevin hits the airwaves.

Today the Museum’s Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Advisor Kevin McCarthy, was a guest of Radio New Zealand for their ‘Summer Times’ series. In his fascinating interview, Kevin explains Vanuatu’s vital role in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He goes on to discuss why a museum on Espiritu Santo is so important to not only commemorating those who served there, but its broader role in improving the lives of the local Ni-Vanuatu population. Kevin has been working for the Museum as part of the New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) programme. He moved to Luganville with his wife Leesa in February 2018 and has been providing invaluable support and guidance to the Museum team since joining us almost 12 months ago. Kevin’s interview can be heard here.

Kevin McCarthy

December 10, 2018

The Ocean Agency Launches
War In The Pacific on Google

The Ocean Agency is a ground-breaking non-profit organisation based in Washington DC, that uses the latest technology in their quest for encouraging ocean sciences and above all, ocean conservation. They gained worldwide notoriety for taking Google to new depths, with a specially developed underwater 360-degree camera, capable of revealing the oceans in Google Street View. As they state on their website, more people went virtual diving in the first week of its launch than have ever been diving in person. Amazingly, their imagery is the most viewed underwater imagery in history.

Million Dollar Point Photosphere

Million Dollar Point as viewed through The Ocean Agency’s new feature on Google Earth.

So, it was with much delight that the Museum was asked to assist them with their latest project War in the Pacific. This wonderful Google Earth journey lets anyone explore some of the more significant underwater WWII sites across the Pacific including our very own President Coolidge and Million Dollar Point sites. Using the same 360-degree underwater camera that was used for the Street View Project, you can explore the sites without getting your feet wet. What’s more, clicking on the links on the two Vanuatu locations will take you through to the Museum’s website.

Congratulations to The Ocean Agency for once again bringing the oceans to life in ways we never thought possible and sincere thanks for giving us the opportunity to play a small part in this exciting project.

To view War in the Pacific on Google Earth for yourself, simply click here, or paste this link into your browser. http://earth.app.goo.gl/MNYkiE

December 22, 2018

The passing of a legend and
a true friend to many.

Earlier this week we awoke to the devastating news of the passing of one of the true legends of SCUBA diving, Allan Power. But more than just one of the world’s most respected divers, Allan was a unique and cherished identity on Espiritu Santo.

Born in Sydney, Australia in 1933, Allan began his working life as a qualified pastry chef in 1953, before working in a foam rubber factory for 15 years. Purchasing his first underwater camera in 1956, his passion with the undersea world soon blossomed spending his holidays in the early 60s on Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. It wasn’t long before Allan’s eye for the exquisite beauty of the reef saw him win the much coveted Levanto prize for underwater photography, and the beginnings of a remarkable career photographing the world’s oceans. His treasured book The Great Barrier Reef published in 1977, opened the eyes of the world to the incredible beauty of the reef.

Allan Power

In December 1969 he travelled to Santo on board the salvage ship Pacific Seal with Barry May to photograph the salvage of the propellers from the SS President Coolidge. However, Allan soon became involved with the salvage operation itself and one could assume, this was where his passion for the great lady began.

In 1978 Allan was offered the position of diving director on Bokissa Island Resort. It wasn’t long before he returned to Santo following the Coconut Rebellion, and in 1981 he established Allan Power Dive Tours. Popularity for Allan’s tours grew quickly and between 1982 and 1985 as many as 45 groups booked dive tours with him in one year – which incidentally made Hotel Santo’s name. In fact, it is widely recognised that Allan initiated tourism on Espiritu Santo and was therefore a founding father to economic growth of the island, prompting the locals on Santo always called him “Uncle”.

Allan’s reputation for the way in which he looked after his diving guests and ran his dive operation saw the business grow in stature as the premier dive operation on Santo and one that was held in high regard worldwide. So much so that on November 8,

2011, Allan was inducted into the International SCUBA Diving Hall of Fame in the Cayman Islands. This prestigious award recognised his contribution to the diving industry in general and his incredible work and achievements on the Coolidge.

When Allan became the unofficial caretaker of the Coolidge, he also became the guardian of the remains of Captain Elwood J Euart, which were yet to be discovered on the great ship. It wasn’t until after the formation of the Elwood J Euart Association and their South Pacific World War II Museum project was launched, that by pure coincidence Allan’s team discovered the remains of Captain Euart on the Coolidge, where they had been lying for around 70 years. That find resulted in the successful recovery and repatriation of Captain Euart’s remains back to his home town in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA. For the past 15 years, a memorial built by Captain Euart’s men has been cleaned and repainted by the dive community, led by Kevin & Mayumi Green, to ensure his name will forever be associated with the rich history of Espiritu Santo. Allan made over 15,000 dives on the Coolidge and has taken over 20,000 divers to the Lady alone – a remarkable achievement for someone who was still diving into his 85th year.

Once in a lifetime someone comes along who can change the way we look at the world. To see it in a way we could never have imagined. For those lucky enough to have spent dive time with Allan Power will appreciate why he was indeed, one of those people.

Vale Mr President

Thanks to Dave Cross from Beachfront Resort for his assistance in preparing this tribute.

November 10, 2018

Official US Charity Status Close

The South Pacific World War II Museum is one step closer to officially achieving charitable status in the United States. Over the past 6 months, we have been working closely with a consulting firm in the US that has been assisting us in achieving our 501(c)(3) charity status.

Of greatest benefit to the museum with the granting of 501(c)(3) charity status from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is that we will be able to receive grants from private US foundations and the US government. More importantly, the museum will be able to provide tax deductions to those from the US wishing to make a donation to the museum.

The process to obtain charity status has come with an extraordinary amount of paperwork and legal hurdles for Museum

IRS & Alma Wensi

Project Office Manager Alma Wensi and the Elwood J Euart Association – the charitable organisation established in Vanuatu in 2012 to oversee the fundraising, building and operation of the museum. However, Alma is also excited by the prospect of attaining tax exempt status in the United States. “501(c)(3) status opens new doors for us from a fundraising point of view”, he said. “Having the opportunity to offer tax deductions to anyone wanting to donate to the museum will make it even more desirable to those wishing to support the museum project.”

As you can imagine, the process of being granted 501(c)(3) charity status is a long, complex and drawn out process to ensure we meet all the conditions and tight regulations set down by the IRS. However, we’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Our application is now in the hands of the IRS and we’re now awaiting final notification that we have been successful with our application. We’ll bring you further updates the moment any news comes through.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sue Herrick and James Boswell who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes in the US to bring this exciting milestone to fruition.

And please remember that you can already show your support for our work by becoming a Museum member. You can read more about it here.

January 21, 2019

We Remember Milton L. Staley

It was with much sadness that we learnt this morning of the passing of Milton L. Staley, aged 99. Not only was Milton the last known survivor from the sinking of the SS President Coolidge, he was just as importantly a D-Day hero, Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient, frequent Facebooker and a wonderful friend of the South Pacific World War II Museum project. But rather than have us tell you about his wonderful life, we thought we’d let his nephew Richard Staley do that, in this touching tribute he posted on our Facebook page.

Another of the Greatest Generation has joined the long green line of WWII veterans who now march slowly into the past Friday evening.

My uncle enjoyed the status of an international rock star — not the arrogant, self-indulgence of a musician, but the respect, sometimes adulation and love of scores of friends at home and in places as widely separated as the Southwest Pacific, Belgium and France. He was a hero — Silver Star and two purple hearts — but he was quiet and always unassuming. He loved his country, his beloved wife (his childhood sweetheart whose passing he mourned until his last moments on earth), his family and friends. And even younger vets he met in the coffeeshop and adopted as family.

Tough times make tough people. Milt and my father and uncle Ed lost their mother at an early age. They grew up in hardscrabble northern Minnesota during the Great Depression. Their graduation ceremony to adulthood was induction into the US military for service in the greatest war in history.

Milt was a gentle man. But he was always a warrior. The Redding Police chaplain who prayed with us for Milt’s departed soul was a Lakota Sioux. The battlecry of Sioux warriors, he said, was also an affirmation of life — live each day as if it was your last:

“Hoka Hay!” (Today is a good day to die.)

It is seldom a good day for those left behind, but for Milton Leroy Staley it was a release from pain. He wanted to celebrate his 100th birthday in May, but Friday he decided that it was time to rejoin Aunt Dorie and his mother and father and brothers and son in a better place.

Hoka hay.

November 2, 2018

Milton Staley’s Coolidge Recollections

With the passing of the 76th anniversary of the sinking of the SS President Coolidge, we thought it appropriate to release a new video that’s been cut from an interview that was conducted with Coolidge survivor Milton Staley in May of this year. The interview, recorded on behalf of the South Pacific World War II Museum by Milton’s nephew Richard Staley was done over a morning at Milton’s home in California. Richard did an incredible job capturing Milton’s life story, how he entered military service, his training and particularly his experiences as a soldier during combat.

At the time of sailing on the SS President Coolidge, Milton was heading for Guadalcanal via Espiritu Santo when it struck the two sea mines on October 26, 1942. Dressed in nothing more than his shorts, he, along with the other 5000+ servicemen and women as well as a small number of civilians made it to shore, with the loss of only two lives. The first being Fireman Robert Reid who was working in the engine room and Captain Elwood J Euart who successfully rescued men trapped in the infirmary but was unable to escape himself, and went down with the ship. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions. As the captain of the Coolidge had the presence of mind to deliberately run the crippled vessel aground in the shallow waters of the Segond Channel, it enabled almost everyone to get ashore safely.

After an extended stay on Santo driving supply trucks to and from the wharf in Luganville, Milton eventually made it to Guadalcanal. After being shipped back home he was reassigned to the European Theatre and was part of the D-Day landings at Utah Be