September 30, 2011

Oahu: Pearl Harbor

My dad has always been fascinated with WWII ships and aircraft.  When I was little he would take my brother & I to go see various submarines or ships like the USS Intrepid.  So of course when Joan & I took a quick tour through Pearl Harbor he was very much on my mind.  It's added to my mental bucket list-- Return to Pearl Harbor with my Pops.

This was the first time that Oahu felt like Hawaii to me.  Everything was very lush & green.  In Waikiki it's hard to imagine a Hawaii without a ton of hotels & tourists but at Pearl Harbor I could picture what the lush landscape would have been like years ago and could imagine the men working on the base.

It's really beautiful at Pearl Harbor and I'm having difficulty describing how it feels.  It's somber but the beauty embraces you.  These islands are so luscious & alive, they want you to move past sadness.  You can feel the sad history here but Hawaii kisses it away in the most loving way.  That's how magical these islands are... 

Seven US ships were lined up in the harbors when the Japanese attacked.  Although the incoming planes were seen on radar, the attendant on duty called off a warning because they were expecting US planes with a shipment.  Soon thereafter, "Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill."

One of these ships was the USS West Virginia.

This is the anchor from the USS Arizona. 

I really wish I had more time here.  All I remember being taught about the attack on Pearl Harbor is that there was one and that it was the breaking point of what got us into WWII.  When you can see history in front of you, it makes an impact.  You learn so much.

Our flag standing over various plaques with names of lives lost that day.

The USS Bowfin submarine is in the background.

seven sided memorial dedicated in 2005 to the Marines who lost their lives. 

This is a Regulus missile (like the one at the USS Intrepid, Pops!) and were used on various submarines.  On June 8th, 1959 a Regulus I missile like this one was loaded with 3,000 letters and launched a hundred miles away from The USS Barbero (a submarine), traveled over 100 miles & 22 minutes through the Atlantic Ocean. It 'landed' at Mayport Naval Air Station in Mayport, Florida to deliver mail that the U.S. Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield had written to key political figures such as President Eisenhower. Each envelope had a picture of the Regulus I and said "First Official Missile Mail." 

And now we have e-mail, folks...

The USS Bowfin.   Unless we're talking sandwiches, I am just not submarine material.  The thought of being submerged miles below an ocean gives me the heebie jeebies.   So much respect for the guys that do this. 

A very, very big torpedo.

There was a circular area where people could sit & pray.  For the life of me I can't remember what it was called.  I want to say it was 'The Reflection Circle.' 

I found these quotes haunting.

The trees in Hawaii are so fascinating & beautiful...

It was incredibly peaceful here.

The USS Arizona Bell when she was inducted...

The little bell is one that was salvaged as well...

This was a Japanese Torpedo that was found by divers.

The ONLY thing I can remember from movie 'Pearl Harbor' (because it was a terrible movie) were the guys stuck inside of the Arizona that were tapping.  I had completely forgotten about it until I read this plaque...

We always remember the attack on Pearl Harbor which was followed by our retaliation on Hiroshima (*shudders*).  But what most people don't think about-- I never thought about, anyway-- the aftermath of what happened & what that meant for Hawaii.  Something else most people don't know is that, today & especially back in the 40's, Oahu had a strong Japanese population.  The social climate became ice cold after the attack, with curfews instated, etc... I can't even imagine what that must have felt like for Japanese American born citizens.

In case you get lost...  :)

After walking around Pearl Harbor, we had the opportunity to go see the Arizona Memorial.

I hear that unless you arrive very early in the morning there's a great chance you won't make it.  There are ferries that bring you to the Memorial and only a certain amount of tickets.  I'm glad we didn't miss it.  These big white markers resemble where the ships were docked the day of the attack.

The Arizona Memorial actually rests above the ship. 

Protruding barbette...

2-9 quarts of oil leak from the vessel a day called the 'black tears' of the Arizona. Divers go in regularly to maintain the ship's stability as there is still half a million gallons of oil. 

The plaque inside.

The flag looking up out of the Memorial.

The shrine.

So many names here, so many lives lost.  "These men are still right under my feet," is all I could think.

The USS Vestal, a repair ship, was damaged in the attack but fixed & continue to serve our country until she was finally stripped down & her parts sold off from '49-50.

USS Missouri was also repaired & has had quite a life fighting for our country in WWII, Korea and even the Gulf War.  After being a valiant force to be reckoned with for so many years, earning many awards, she rests now back home in Pearl Harbor.

If you get a chance, you should go...  Again, this entire trip was such a gift and I couldn't be more thankful to Joan for taking me.  More of Hawaii to come... wait til you see Maui!!!

Much love,

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