Music and Words

March 25, 2010

Hawaii, Day 3

Filed under: Words — melomania @ 12:57 pm
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We went over to visit Pearl Harbor yesterday. Because they have a limited number of tickets for the USS Arizona memorial, we had an early start to the day. I think we were at Pearl Harbor by about 8.

That’s 5am in Tucson.

My body is having a really hard time changing time zones, so I’m never entirely sure what time it is. I’m not tired when I should be and I’m exhausted in the middle of the day. But the point remains the same: we got up early.

We got our tickets to the USS Arizona memorial then toured the submarine USS Bowfin while we waited for our tour time. The Bowfin tour had an audio guide to get more information on the submarine, and hear some stories from people who served on it. We saw the torpedo launchers, and the tiny sleeping quarters, and learned about how there were fewer beds than men so they slept in shifts. We heard about when they took the submarine deeper than it was designed to go in order to avoid Japanese depth charges, and succeeded. The Bowfin performed very well for the US Navy, sinking many enemy ships and submarines and avoiding casualties. They said the only casualty the Bowfin suffered was one man’s leg injury.

After we finished with the Bowfin, we watched a video about the actual attack on Pearl Harbor. We saw video footage of the attack and learned about how the Japanese were actually in Washington, D.C. doing peace talks when the attack happened. (That must have ended really quickly.) They sent out two waves of planes from aircraft carriers stationed to the north of Hawaii. The guy manning the radar at the time saw all the planes and radioed the people in communications. They thought it was just the flight of B-17s that was supposed to arrive that day and told him not to worry about it. The Japanese were hoping to hit the aircraft carriers, but the carriers were actually not in port at the time. A lot of battleships, however, were in port, so they attacked the battleships. The USS Arizona was sunk after a direct hit caused all its ammunition to explode. The USS Oklahoma flipped over in the water, but was actually salvaged and put back into active service during the war. Most of the ships that were hit were able to be salvaged. The Arizona is the only one that was never recovered.

After the video ended, it was time for our trip across the bay to the USS Arizona memorial. The memorial has been erected over top of the sunken ship and includes a marble wall inscribed with the names of all 1,177 sailors and Marines who died on board. About 950 of those bodies were never recovered and remain in the ship at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The tour guide pointed out that there are a lot of places on the wall where the same last name is repeated. She explained that until 1942, members of the same family were allowed to serve together, so some of those repetitions indicate sets of brothers who served together on the Arizona, and died together. In one instance, there is actually a father/son pair that both died on board. The ship is still leaking oil into the bay and from the memorial you can see the point where the oil bubbles up from the fuel tanks. It doesn’t seem to bother the little tropical fish that hang around the ship.

We returned to the shore after that memorial, got some lunch, and made our way over to the USS Missouri across the bay. Dad and Doug took off on their own to explore this huge battleship, but Mom, the two grandmas, and I all got the audio tours to learn about the ship. We saw the place where the surrender agreement was signed on board the Missouri in 1945. We also saw the place where a Japanese kamikaze pilot flew into the ship. The bomb that he was carrying had fallen off his plane in the ocean, so he didn’t do any damage. The fire that resulted was put out immediately and his remains were recovered from the wreckage. A sailor on board the ship at the time told a story on the audio guide about what happened afterward. He said the captain ordered an honorable burial at sea for the pilot, and the medical staff on board recovered all the body parts from the wrecked plane and put them back together. The crew didn’t feel that this was necessary, but the captain insisted that the pilot was just serving his country the same way the battleship crew was serving theirs, and he deserved the burial.

Dad and Doug wanted to go see the Pacific Aviation Museum, but none of the rest of us really felt a need to do that, so Mom, the grandmas, and I took off in the car to drive around. Mom conveniently forgot her driver’s license, so I drove, which meant that Mom got to see the sights as we drove through downtown Honolulu and past Waikiki Beach. I’m told it was beautiful, but all I was looking at the was road and the horrible rush-hour traffic. We turned around to go pick up Dad and Doug, stopping to find a Starbucks on the way, then made our way back to Pearl Harbor. Dad and Doug were the only people left.

We drove back to the house for dinner and spent the evening applying aloe vera gel to our sunburns and watching a C-17 do touch-and-go’s at the Marine base near our house. In fact, he never did land at the base, instead flying back toward the North Shore after he was finished playing around. He was back this morning doing more of them.

We’re having a pretty relaxed morning today, with plans to go out and do some more snorkeling this afternoon. We’re going to go down to the South Shore and go snorkeling in a bay that’s known for its reef life. After that we’re going to do some more driving and find some blowholes. (Not the kind on whales; the kind that are holes in the rock where sea water spurts up and looks cool.) Apparently Doug’s Air-Force-brat friend used to live in Hawaii and says we should see that.

No pictures today because I didn’t get any from Dad. I don’t think he’s gone through them yet to even pick and edit the good ones, although he is going to have so many airplane pictures from yesterday that I don’t know how long that would take. I’ll get some good ones of the memorials and post them later tonight or tomorrow morning.

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