Blunts Point cannon ready for Flag Day
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa— The National Park of American Samoa, in partnership with the American Samoa Historic Preservation Office (ASHPO), the American Samoa Visitor's Bureau (ASVB), and Samoana High School, completed a rehabilitation project on the upper gun of the World War II era Blunts Point Guns above Pago Pago Harbor.
The project, which took place on private lands with the blessing of the owners, started in March and was completed just in time for Flag Day celebrations.
The gun emplacement, in which the World War II era gun sits, was flooded with water for decades and the gun was rusting. The team pumped water out of the concrete gun emplacement, shoveled out muck and scum, fixed the clogged drain, painted the gun with rust resistant paint, and repaired the trail to the gun.
The Pago Pago Harbor defenses, of which the Blunts Point guns are the best preserved, were constructed in 1941 by a civilian contractor who hired about 1,000 Samoans to help build the installations.
The Fita Fita Guard, the all Samoan company of 100 men and officers, supported the manning of the guns by the US Marine Corps throughout WWII. The guns, and those at Breakers Point across the harbor, provided excellent views and defense of the harbor, Tutuila Island and the South Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the work of the three government agencies, the students of Samoana High School Senior History and Government class helped paint the gun and clean the grounds around the guns. Historic Preservation Officer, David Herdrich, gave a tour of the guns to the students and explained the history of the WWII guns.
“It has been wonderful to see the villages, schools, and local and federal government agencies work together to help preserve this piece of American Samoan and US history and make it available for future generations,” said Mike Reynolds, Superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa. “It is particularly relevant as we celebrate Flag Day this week.”
This project is part of a series of projects that are related to the guns and developing a heritage tourism trail in the Utulei area. Prior to the rehabilitation work the American Samoa Historic Preservation Office conducted an archaeological survey documenting the guns and features associated with the guns.
Approximately 76 features were identified besides the guns themselves, such as concrete foundations for housing where the gunners lived and evidence of a railed “skidway" that was used to haul up the guns, construction material, and ammunition for the guns.
The eventual goal is to have the Blunts Point Guns serve as the start of a trail that runs through the mountains above Gatavai and Utulei that will pass by other World War II sites, as well as prehistoric sites such as traditional tia seu lupe. The national park and the ASHPO are currently working with the Office of Samoan Affairs to ensure that landowners are aware of and approve of the larger trail project.