To those in the Navy it is known simply as “Pearl”, throughout the world it is known as Pearl Harbor.
The last time I was at Pearl was in July 1976 when I was in the Navy as an Aviation Electrician Second Class Petty Officer stationed on the USS Enterprise. We stopped at Pearl on the beginning of a WestPac headed to Subic Bay in the Philippines, Hong Kong and then Hobart, Tasmania. Then I was flown home as my hitch was up in December.
I remember as we made our way through the channel to our mooring near the Arizona Memorial how seemingly quiet it was. The flight deck was lining with sailors in their dress whites out of respect for the fallen. Those that were there that day December morning had a blank stare come over them. My Chief was one of them. I remember him pointing to where the planes came from and what was happening during the attack. It was both interesting and eerie to hear the details from someone that was actually there when the attack occurred.
One thing that I have regretted over the past 35 years was not going to the Arizona Memorial and I was not going to make the same mistake twice. While waiting for the launch to go to the Arizona there were three survivors of the December 7th attack. They were their signing autographs and handing out on page biographies of their story of that day. I had all three sign copies for my grandkids Basil and Dionisia.
Before you go to the memorial itself there is a short film that explains the reasons for Japan attack. There are film clips from both the Japanese and the Americans and it gives insight from both perspectives.
Once at the Arizona you are asked to keep the talking to a minimum out of respect. This isn’t really necessary as everyone seemed to do so naturally. A quiet calm and reverence was apparent as visitors from all nations looked at the names of Arizona’s fallen listed on the white marble wall at the far end of the memorial or as they looked into the water at the encrusted hull.
Another reminder of the war was the battleship Missouri known as “Big Mo” that looked over the fallen Arizona just a stones throw away. On the deck of the Missouri is where Japan signed its unconditional surrender on September 2, 1945. by surrender was conducted by the Supreme Allied Commander General Douglas MacArthur.
I’m glad I went to the Arizona to pay my respects.
Now it is five sea days until we reach French Polynesia…