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Kainalu’s ‘Jet Crash Remembered’ Tuesday

Dec. 7, 1941, is a date etched in the minds of most of us here in the Islands and across the nation. But unbeknownst to many area residents, 20 years after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, Kailua experienced its own aerial assault.

Kailua Historical Society will present “Kainalu’s Night of Horror: Jet Crash Remembered,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Kainalu Elementary School cafeteria. Admission is free.

In conjunction with the school’s 60th anniversary and the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing, Dr. Paul Brennan, president of the society, has assembled a panel of residents who witnessed the tragic crash that took the lives of the military aircraft’s pilot, 2nd Lt. William Wright, and 8-year-old Kainalu Elementary School student Steven Schmitz, whose parents and siblings were spared, although their home was demolished.

The presentation includes a video screening of the crash prepared by military historian David Trojan. Two Marine Skyhawk jets were involved in a midair collision, with one of them plunging down across Kawainui Marsh into the tranquil Kainalu neighborhood. It crashed at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 20, 1961, in the Kainalu Elementary schoolyard and left three homes burning in its wake, one in which that little boy slept. The disaster, of course, provoked quite a reaction, with news media and then-Gov. William F. Quinn rushing to the scene.

Kainalu Elementary School is located at 165 Kaiholu St. For more information about the program, call Brennan at 262-7316.