There is no way this post can even cover or give it what it fully deserves but this is just a tiny little tidbit in to our visit to Pearl Harbor. This past spring my husband was invited to play in a hockey tournament on Oahu. ( I know they have ice rinks in Hawaii? That was my initial response as well.) Like I’ve mentioned, I have a huge wanderlust appetite and well Hawaii has been on the menu for a long time. All I can say is that I was so happy that Oahu was our first experience on the islands. There was so much about this trip that was magical for our family that it will take several post to cover it . But today I wanted to focus on our visit to Pearl Harbor.
For starters it wasn’t just another tourist stop for us. Our neighbor “Red” is 95 and a Pearl Harbor survivor. We were so blessed to have heard his personal story of that morning attack. His ship the U.S.S. Utah was the first ship struck that awful morning. (I don’t want to get in to too much detail because he has agreed to sit for a photo session and I can’t wait to share his full story). But here is a little background. He was 20 years old at the time and he is only 1 of 20 survivors that they know of that is still alive today. But from the time the first torpedo hit (it was hit by 2) it took the ship 11 minutes to start capsizing. He had to jump over the side of the ship. If I remember correctly he jumped about 6 stories. As it rolled and he then swam to shore covered in gasoline, dodging bullets in waters infested with sharks. He said I’ll never forget the sound of hearing the U.S.S. Arizona explode. So when he offered to set up a private tour of Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and visiting his ship we just knew we had to make this part of our adventure. I wish there was room and time to tell you everything we experienced but I could write a 5 page essay and loose all of you along the way. But there was just moments we were brought to tears, fears that gripped a parents heart when you think of the age of a lot of those sailors. Some lied about their age and because of their size wasn’t questioned. There were some boys on there that were 15. The same age my son was at that exact moment. Stories of sailors that went down with the ship to save others. Being shown the dip in the mountains where the first set of planes entered the harbor and the path they flew. Stories and visuals that sent chills down your spine and when a plane flew over your head the hairs stood up on your arms. Stories of sailors trapped that banged on metal with wrenches for days, with water rising, and air disappearing just waiting to be rescued. For those they were able to recover many were found dead with the things they were banging with still clutched in their hands. Others would forever be laid to rest at the bottom of the harbor. I just kept thinking so many of them were barely men. They can only guess how many soldiers are buried on those ships. Many were shot or burned from having to swim in the gasoline and the water catching on fire, some were attacked by sharks or taken out to sea. There was times of silence and respect for those who lost their lives. Seeing all their names on plaques and walls was overwhelming. But knowing someone personally, imagining him and playing his story over in our heads as we stood at the rusty turned over ship gave us a whole different experience and respect.