Gen Next Of Keaulana Lifesavers

(from left) Hall Danon, Bouvey Bradbury, Fred Klettke, Noland Keaulana and Lt. Mac Hall | Shayne Enright photo

There are times in life where our future is predetermined. Noland Keaulana understands this concept, and he has no issues with his life course being set for him. In fact, he embraces it.

“When I was in high school, I was already looking forward to being a lifeguard and saving lives,” says Keaulana with a huge grin. “My grandfather and Uncle Brian are legends at Makaha Beach, and they’re legends to me.

“Lifeguarding is in my blood.”

It truly is. Keaulana is the grandson of Makaha Beach’s first lifeguard, Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana. Buffalo’s lifesaving stories have been well-documented. The same can be said of his oldest son Brian, who started his lifeguarding career in 1976 and later became a pioneer in lifesaving techniques.

Noland is the newest Keaulana to man Oahu beaches. The 24-year-old currently is stationed on the South Shore, along with his brother Brandon. Brother Keoni is stationed at Maili Beach Park in West Oahu. “I’m very proud of my grandsons Noland, Brandon and Keoni because the three of them are lifeguards,” says Buffalo with pride. “Noland has a good heart. He’s big and strong and he’s a good swimmer. He was born to do this.”

Noland recently proved that he was born to save lives during an incident at Makaha Beach. Veteran surfer Fred Klettke was on his way back to shore, lying in a prone position, when he found himself caught in the infamous Makaha back-wash.

“The backwash, rather than being 2 feet, grew to like 4 feet, and you just hit like a motorcycle ramp and, unfortunately, I ended up in an X Games jump rather than just kind of coming in,” says Klettke.

Klettke was knocked unconscious and disappeared in the shorebreak. Lifeguard Mac Hall witnessed the wipeout and immediately responded along with Bouvey Bradbury and Hall Danon.

Noland Keaulana was off duty and had just arrived at Makaha Beach to go surfing when he saw activity on the shoreline.

“He just pulled up to go surfing, and then as soon as we brought him up, Noland was there putting on gloves and getting ready to go,” says Lt. Hall.

“Fred was out cold and pretty much turning blue,” says Keaulana. “I just jumped in and took over the head and got a good seal on his airway.”

The four lifesavers performed CPR for several minutes until Klettke regained consciousness. All four men received the city’s prestigious Merit Award.

“They’re like family now,” says Fred Klettke. “I’m very, very happy to be here and to have an accident here rather than some remote location. They worked overtime to bring me back to life. I mean, I was flat-lined. They all took turns doing CPR and doing resuscitation. I have no idea what they did, but I’m glad they went as hard as they did.”

Keaulana’s peers had high praise for his willingness to respond to the unexpected emergency. But they’re not surprised. Hall and Danon have watched Noland Keaulana grow up at Makaha Beach and say the once kolohe young teenager is now a well-respected lifeguard.

“He grew up in the right place, from the right family, and he’s very knowledgeable with the ocean and he has outstanding lifeguarding skills,” says Hall.

“He’s a part of this beach more than anybody out here,” adds Donan. “He’s got it in his blood. He knows how to do it.”

“I’m proud of what he did,” says Grandpa Buffalo. “He followed his instinct, and I’m happy he was there to help.”

And why wouldn’t he be? He’s a Keaulana. It’s in his veins.