06 November 2007
Dateline: Ford Island
Aviators know what I mean when I say I'm "behind the power curve".
We've seen so much... done so much. So much has happened, I've had to make notes on what to share with you. I'll try to blog in my spare time, (HA!).
Let me slowly bring you up to speed.
First- the idea of coming to these islands for a week... spending a couple days on Oahu, then hopping over to Maui for a couple days, then on to Hawaii for a couple... absolute crap. By the time we leave we'll have been here a week, and we won't even have done Oahu justice.
That's how it looks through these eyes anyway. Our rooms in the "Navy Lodge" here on Ford Island are fabulous. Two queen beds and bath, kitchenette, and separate sitting room with desk and sofa/sleeper. We sleep within 1000 feet of the remains of almost 1000 men that died on the U.S.S. Arizona.
This is another mini-High School reunion for me. I sponsored four classmates and spouses to stay here at the Inn with us. We arrived Thursday evening to very light rain and moderate temperatures. The rain stopped and we congregated at one of the Lanais for beverages and conversation with our classmate that lives here on Oahu and her husband who works for the Navy at Pearl Harbor.
Friday morning dawned beautifully and found us with coffee cups in hand on the front porch, overlooking the Harbor. Showered and ready for action, we drove one mile to the Battleship Missouri and signed up for the guided tour. It's impossible to describe the effect approaching this ship has on ya... almost 1000 feet long and 20 stories tall, 9-16 inch guns lying in standby, my thoughts went to what it must have been like on 6 Dec 41 to see a clutch of similar ships moored here. The tour lasted an hour or so and was well worth the time and money. From the bow of the Missouri it's impossible to miss the beautiful white structure that is the Arizona Memorial. That was next on the agenda.
The only way to get to the Arizona is by water, so we had to drive to the other side of the harbor to visit her. There is a museum there with many 7 Dec exhibits, and we idled some time there while waiting to go into the theatre to watch a 20 minute film about the U.S. being invited into WWII. The film moved me to tears. We then boarded the ferry and crossed the harbor to the Arizona. There were 60 or so people on the ferry... many of them Japanese tourists. All were obviously affected, like me, by the film. What talk there was among the visitors was done at a whisper.
We've all seen so many images of the Memorial, you feel as if you've already been there. After disembarking the ferry we walked to the far end of the Memorial to view the names of the crewman that were killed that day, including those whose remains we stood above. A smaller separate plaque shows the names and dates of death of those Arizona shipmates who survived into old age who made the decision to have their ashes deposited here alongside their shipmates who died over 60 years ago.
We were the last tour for the day and the sun was low in the sky, so it was hard making out the outline of the big ship beneath us. On the bow, a buoy is tied so you can see the ship's length. Not quite as long as the Missouri, it boggles the imagination, thinking of something that large exploding... burning... sinking.
So our Friday was a full, emotional day.
Adjacent to the facility/theatre for the Arizona is a WWII submarine, the "Bowfin".
We intend to take a look there before we leave.
More to come...