ON THIS DATE IN 1941: Punahou, Saint Louis football teams stranded

On this date in 1941, the Punahou and Saint Louis football teams were stranded on other islands when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took place.

Saint Louis beat the Kauai Army team 39-0 in Lihue behind Herman Wedemeyer the day before the attack and was primed to take on a combined Kekaha and Waimea team on Sunday. Punahou was on Maui preparing to play Baldwin when word of the attack caused the game to be canceled.

Saint Louis won the ILH before the trips, with its lone loss coming to Punahou.

With travel restricted, the programs had no way of knowing when they would be able to return to their battered home island. It took nearly 10 days for the first Buffanblu party to escape Maui, with assistant coach Harold Yap leading Johnny Ruiz, Forrest Dunham, Jack Ackerman, John Watkins and Gordon Tilly home.

Coach Harry Field stayed behind with the rest of the players. Twenty-nine of the 42 members of the traveling party landed on Oahu the next day, leaving 13 people still waiting for transportation.

Saint Louis had a harder time securing flights from Kauai, with 11 of the party returning on Dec. 15 and 35 Crusaders waiting for a ride.

By Dec. 19 both teams had returned their full contingents to Oahu. During their 12 days away from home, they stayed busy with police duty, standing guard and digging trenches.

The trip was especially harrowing for Saint Louis athletic director and assistant coach Stephen McCabe, whose brother Joseph was killed when a bomb dropped on the Packard sedan he was in near 802 Judd Street on his way to Pearl Harbor three hours after the Japanese withdrew. Authorities speculated that it was friendly fire from an anti-aircraft shell.

Joseph McCabe was 43 years old and left behind a widow and six children.

Stephen McCabe relinquished his post as the school’s athletic director in 1942 when the school became an army hospital and intended on resuming duties but died of a heart attack in the school’s reading room in 1951.

Two thousand people showed up when the school’s gymnasium was dedicated McCabe Gym in 1957.


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