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  • Adam Ragsdale

Palm Circle Event

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

On May 15, 2023, Chris Dawson and his team helped put together a spectacular polo exhibition at Palm Circle. The event, which took place on the historic site at Fort Shafter, spotlighted the best polo players of Hawaii. These athletes demonstrated their masterful skills in front of senior military leaders, and representatives of allied and partner nations. In the spirit of polo, the players and leaders joined together to honor the Army’s historic association with the sport.

With his outstanding teammates, Chris played in the match, racing down the grassy field, striking the ball to propel his team forward. At the time, the owner and CEO proudly wore the symbolic colors of Army black and gold. The exhibition lasted an equivalent of three chukkas, giving audiences an amazing glimpse of the game’s power.

General Charles A. Flynn led the occasion, welcoming a roster of important military figures. As the commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, General Flynn pitched the first ball of the match. In addition to the demonstration, the event initiated the LANPAC Symposium and Exposition. A professional development forum, the exposition showcased the vital importance of land forces within the Indo-Pacific theater. Those present also celebrated the event’s tenth anniversary.

The symposium started off with a bang, as the 25th Infantry Division soldiers wowed audiences with a powerful performance of a traditional Hawaiian warrior dance known as Ha’a. Viewers also were graced by a speech from Honolulu Polo Club president Allen Hoe, who discussed the fascinating connections between polo and the Army.

In his speech, Allen explained how the Army’s connection to horses goes all the way back to the American War of Independence in the period of Westward expansion. On the Hawaiian Islands, in a place near Palama, polo was introduced by British officers who played with local men. This paved the way for the establishment of a dedicated polo field at Kapiolani Park in Diamond Head, where the sport exploded in popularity.

The game was played almost every weekend of the year before the Second World War, as military leaders played with local teams. One of the most iconic figures in modern history, Lt. Col. George Patton, was included on the list of players. In 2011, the first polo match of the inaugural “Polo Pa’ina” event was held at Palm Circle, marking the beginning of this valuable tradition. During that famous game, the Army Black and Army Gold teams faced off.

Allen, the board director of our own Hawaii Native Corporation, is an expert in polo’s origins in Hawaii. The 76-year-old Vietnam War veteran still enjoys riding, and was exposed to the sport 40 years ago. At the event, Allen revealed how the exhibition gives young soldiers an introduction to the equestrian culture. The historic connection to polo is not so distant in the past. In fact, just seventy years ago, horseback mobility was a still relied upon in the Army. Today, the sport of polo continues to represent the unity of men and horses – fighting together as a powerful team.


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