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Kimo Mitchell

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

James Kimo Mitchell was the other was born in Keanae, Maui on February 15, 1952, the youngest of Harry Mitchell Sr. and Pearl Mitchell’s five children. He grew up around farmers who cultivated taro and lilikoi.

Kimo was “a smart and strong kid” who was exceptional at swimming and sports. When the family moved to town so the kids could attend Baldwin High School, Mitchell starred on the football team. After graduation from high school, he attended Coalinga Junior College and Fresno State College in California, but decided not to try out for the National Football League.

Instead he returned to Hawaiʻi to rejoin his family, which included his father, four older siblings and their children. He took a job with the National Park Service, working in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park. He hunted, farmed and fished in his spare time, and was on the senior men's crew at the Hana Canoe Club.

Although Kimo was not directly involved with the Protect Kahoolawe ʻOhana, he became well liked by PKO members, and helped ferry protesters to and from Kahoolawe.

On Jan. 30, 1977, Sluggo Hahn and Kimo Mitchell dropped off five men on Kahoolawe, including George Helm. However, only Walter Ritte and Richard Sawyer planned an extended stay. Unfortunately their presence didn’t stop the Navy from bombing.

Concerned for Walter and Richard, George Helm set out to Kahoʻolawe, with Kimo and Billy.

At around 2 a.m. On March 5, Helm, Kimo Mitchell and Billy Mitchell headed toward Kahoolawe on a boat loaded with two surfboards, an inner tube and supplies.

Unable to find their friends, the three men waited for Sluggo to return at the agreed-upon pickup time, but he never made it back. The boat would later be found sunk off the pier in Kihei with its bilge plugs pulled. By the time another working boat was found, the men had already gone missing.

So, on March 7, the Kimo and George took two surfboards and jumped into the rough waters. They were last seen at Molokini.

“Kimo had all the positive qualities George Helm had wished for in all young Hawaiians: He had pride in his culture — and no sense of inferiority — a good education, a sense of purpose and a willingness to give of himself”

Caring for the land was Kimo’s strength. He wasn’t a public speaker like George Helm or Walter Ritte, but he lived out aloha ‘aina all his life.

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