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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

(WW#1) Walking Through History - Remembering Pearl Harbor

Welcome to the inaugural Writer’s Wednesday. This post was meant to out earlier in the week, so my apologies…


After walking through, by or next to some of its many historical sites, I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts about Dec. 7, the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Now called Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the former Pearl Harbor Naval Base is always a hub of activity, but throughout the day last Wednesday, the energy felt muted as all over the base, ships and shore activities displayed flags at half-mast from 8 a.m. until sunset.

For me, one of many goose-bump moments occurred at 7:55 a.m., the moment when the attacks began. Looking outside my window, I heard the F-22’s from the Hawaii National Guard fly the missing-man formation over the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
70 years later, a full rainbow at the exact moment of the attacks...

While I couldn’t see the planes from several
miles away, I did see this full rainbow right above where many of the commemorative events would be held…

Signal flags flying from the USS Missouri
Interestingly, as was done following the original attack, from their outboard #2 halyard, all ships displayed a set of signal flags that included Pennant Zero, First Sub, Tango, Victor and Golf, which translated to “All Ships, Well Done,” according to information from the base’s public affairs office.

Two of the many scheduled events surrounding the 70th anniversary, were arranged as tributes to several former sailors who had made one final request of their former boss
During the day “that will live on in infamy,” U.S. Navy divers interred the remains of Vernon Olsen, 91, of Port Charlotte, Fla. aboard the USS Arizona (BB-39).
Mr. Olsen served on the battleship that is now the tomb of more than 1,000 men who died in the attack.

A wreath stands watch over the hulk of the USS Utah
The remains of 90-year-old Lee Soucy, of Plainview, Texas, were carried December 6 by divers to the USS Utah (BB-31) a brown, hulking wreck that rests only yards from the edge of Ford Island.

Family members accompanied both men to the site of their final resting places.
In an interview with CNN, Soucy’s daughter, Mary McCormick, said, “I think it's pretty awesome that we are getting to do this.” 

Walking around the visitor center later that day, the scattering of people were outnumbered by the many stacks of folding chairs after a main ceremony that attracted thousands. It was my first visit, and to be there on the anniversary was incredibly special. Even the kids were quieter than normal.

Viewing the USS Arizona through one of its anchors

Wreaths were placed next to the dozen or so flagpoles, representing the ships destroyed or damaged in the attacks, including the USS Arizona and its memorial that sits on the other side of the harbor.

Lambert Mooder travelled from Arizona to the event and was part of the 120-strong delegation of Pearl Harbor Survivors who officially returned one last time. (Founded in 1958, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association plans to dissolve in about two weeks.)

A young sailor speaks to Lambert Mooder, a PH Survivor
Up at 4 a.m. (instead of his normal 6 a.m.) Mr. Mooder was in fine form hours after his official events were complete.
After shaking his hand, thanking him for his service, and welcoming him home, the old sailor smiled and said, with a twinkle in his eyes that he was glad to be back.

“Son, I’m just glad to still be above ground, and I thank God for that every day.”

Never Forgotten
Stray Bullet Holes on Ford Island
Historic Ford Island Control Tower (Under Renovation)
The "Mighty Mo" watches over the USS Oklahoma (BB-37)

Why They Fought...


Sheri L. Swift, Author said...

Just beautiful Mark! I was only able to see a little of the area in 1976, but your photos bring back those memories. Thank you for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

I want to visit Hawaii, it's so beautiful. You took wonderful pictures and it sounds it was an honorable event. Great post Mark!

Jo Schaffer Layton said...

Very touching. And to think I only go to Hawaii to relax on the beach... I think I have an appointment with history next time.

Mark Koopmans said...

@ Sheri: My pleasure, and wow, I kinda wish I'd had the chance to see HI in '76... sometimes I feel it's getting too commercial, especially downtown Honolulu...

@Mel: Mahalo! It really was an amazing day, and meeting Mr. Mooder was the best :)

@Jo: Aloha, and thanks for the follow:) Yeah, there is *so* much history over here... I haven't even touched the non-military side of things... pheww!

Jennie Bennett said...

What a moving tribute to the hero's of that day! To be there must have been extraordinary. That picture of the rainbow had me choking up. God bless those men and their families!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Thanks for sharing this. The rainbow is beautiful. My niece was born on Dec. 7. We remind her of Peal Harbor every year.

Cassie Mae said...

Thanks so much for sharing. Those photos hit that spot in my chest that suddenly makes my nose run and my eyes leak. This was amazing, thank you!

Mark Koopmans said...

@J.A.: Yes, it was truly an honor just to be there - we were so lucky and I felt blessed to hear the history (at least part of it) from those who lived it.

@Stacy: Aloha, and belated happy birthday to your niece:) What a great idea, too, to remind her of how special her special day is.

@Cassie Mae: Mahalo, and you're welcome, although I didn't do anything amazing. Those brave men and women did more amazing things in a day than I shall do in a life...

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