Our Visitors

Wisconsin Rotary Group visit the Memorial - May 2023

US Marines in New Zealand

KUSMT Trustee, Major Larry Keim, with a group of visitors from the Wisonsin Rotary Club. This was a Rotary International Friendship exchange visit. Members of the group were hosted by members of the Kapiti Rotary Club before attending the Rotary International convention in Melbourne in May 2023.

MARFORPAC Band - April 2023

US Marines in New Zealand

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Scouts from Porirua to Levin - June 2018

US Marines in New Zealand

Keas, cubs, and scouts from Porirua to Levin were all visitors to the Marines Memorial site as part of the Kapiti Coastal Scout Zone’s Jamboree on the Trail - in Queen Elizabeth Park on May 12.

Jamboree on the Trail is an annual day for the World Scout Movement to hike together. The event is always held on the second Saturday of May, and all Scouts, whatever their age and wherever they are in the world are invited to participate.

Several hundred Kapiti groups visited the park, as part of the event and a number of groups took time to visit the Memorial, and the newly restored Marines Hut. It was a great opportunity to showcase our new disability access ramp built by fantastic volunteers from the MenzShed. The ramp also makes viewing of the hut interior much easier for small children.

Jack Rogo, survivor of Pearl Harbour - May 2018

US Marines in New Zealand

Jack Rogo, a 97 year old survivor of Pearl Harbour, was a “star” guest at Memorial Day service on May 2018 at the US Marines Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Trust Chair Richard Benge said “it was exciting and fitting” to have Mr Rogo visit because the service always has a strong focus on the remembering the ten US seamen who lost their lives in “the Landing Tragedy” on Paekakariki beach in 1943.

Jack Rogo, enlisted in the United States navy on February 14 1940. After undertaking basic training at the San Diego Naval Training Station he was assigned to the USS Bridge, a floating refrigeration ship bound for Hawaii.

On the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbour, Jack was having breakfast in the mess and “the building convulsed”. He says they didn’t pay attention to it as the rumour was that the armoury was on manoeuvres, but some of the explosions were very loud and they couldn’t understand what was going on.

After breakfast he went to Lanai to see what was happening and couldn’t believe his eyes; ships were sinking and turning over. Men were swimming to shore (if they could) and the dead and badly wounded were floating on the water. Jack volunteered to go out and pick up the wounded who couldn’t make it back to shore.

Red Knights Ride of Respect - April 2018

US Marines in New Zealand

Over 130 motorcycles and riders from the Red Knights Motorcycle Club visited Queen Elizabeth Park and the US Marines Memorial on April 22 as part of a Ride of Respect to commemorate the end of WWI.

Convoy100 visit - May 2018

US Marines in New Zealand

The US Marines Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park, (Formerly Camp Russell), was an early attraction for the Armistice 100 Convoy when it visited the former Camp Russell on March 22.

Organised by the New Zealand Military Vehicle Club, to commemorate the end of WWI, the Convoy started in Rotorua on March 18 travelling down to Wanaka to see the Warbirds Over Wanaka Air Show on March 31.

The Convoy, included jeeps, Chevy & Dodge Trucks, a Unimog. Over half of the 23 vehicles were brought over from the US by their owners and a number of others joined the group as it headed south.

While at the Memorial, the group paid their respects to US Marines who died or were injured in WWII. They were welcomed by KUSMT Historian Anthony Dreaver and heard a short address from the Deputy Chief of Mission from the United States Embassy, Susan Niblock.

US Ambassador and Mrs. Brown visit - November 2017

US Marines in New Zealand

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Son of beach landing casualty visits - December 2015

In December 2015 the Skoog family: George (Son of Alva Skoog), his wife Nancy and their three sons: George, Scott and Andrew came to New Zealand to celebrate their Father’s 80th birthday. As part of their visit the Trust the Trust hosted a special visit and small memorial event for them. Alva Skoog (31) was one of the ten men who lost their lives on June 20, 1943 Landing craft Incident. He was one of the oldest of the group and the only one to have a child George Skoog (senior) who was our special guest.


Actor from the World’s Fastest Indian visits - July 2015

US Marines in New Zealand

In July 2015, we hosted a ceremony at the Memorial for Native American actor, Saginaw Grant (79), a Marine veteran from the Korean War. Saginaw has appeared in numerous films and television shows, and is probably best known to Kiwis for his part in The World’s Fastest Indian. He was visiting New Zealand as part of a cultural exchange programme.

Wadestown School - May 2015

US Marines in New Zealand

A group of 105 Wadestown students, teachers and parents staged their own “Friendly Invasion” of Camp Russell in Queen Elizabeth Park late last year - as part of an outdoor education class.

Kapiti U.S.Marines trustee - Major Larry Keim told the children that Marines are soldiers of the sea and work closely with the navy. He also explained how six items loaned by the Paekakariki Museum were used by the servicemen.

The session was held at the Marines Memorial and former history teachers Anthony Dreaver and Roger Childs were also part of the KUSMT team managing the visit.

US Ambassador Gilbert - April 2015

US Marines in New Zealand

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Our three local Marines camps were centre stage when new American ambassador, Mark Gilbert, his wife Nancy, daughter Liz, and embassy staff, paid a recent trip to Paekakariki, as guests of the Kapiti U.S.Marines Trust.

The tour started at the Paekakariki Station Museum where the ambassador and his wife were shown the multi-media display on the Marines presence in the area – funded by the American Embassy.

Trust Chair Jenny Rowan said the Trust was honoured to have Mr Gilbert, his family and embassy staff visiting - and “incredibly grateful for their enthusiasm and support”.

The visit continued with a stop at the Marines Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park (formerly Camp Russell). Here, local historian Anthony Dreaver recounted the story of the June 1943 landing craft tragedy beside the sailors’ memorial. The entourage continued on to Whareroa Beach where the 10 sailors perished.

The last part of the tour was to Whareroa Farm (the former Camp Mackay) where Roger Childs outlined the In the Footsteps of the Marines event and the group walked up to a lookout to view the remnants of the camp.

Tarawa Veterans Visit - 2014

A memorable 2014 visit from six U.S.World War II veterans now has added poignancy as the Trust has learnt that four of the six men who called themselves “The Band of Brothers” have died over the past year.

The group of Marines, then aged 88-93 all trained in New Zealand as part of the Second Marine Division – prior to fighting in the four-day Battle of Tarawa. They were all stationed in Camps in Kāpiti and Porirua.