Day 2 ~ Sunday, May 20th
Ford Island’s Airstrip was also attacked on December 6, 1940. We had lunch inside their museum and checked out all the exhibits. Outside we walked to Hangar 79. It held airplanes and helicopters form various eras of aviation.
Then we drove over to see the USS Missouri. There are tours of 50 people or more. We decided to go on our own. This is the ship on which the Japanese signed the Instrument of Surrender. That is right; it was not a peace treaty.
Today was the day we got skunked. The dock at the USS Arizona Memorial is under repair by the Navy. No one hazards to guess when it will be fixed. So we sailed by it but could not board it. Yet, it was not a lost experience.
The Pearl Harbor Historical Site held other memorials worth visiting. Among all the statues, torpedos, maps and museums there is the USS Bowfish. It’s a submarine and the best part is that we are allowed to go on it and it from bow to stern. You can man the guns too but they don’t fire.
Inside it seemed big and held a lot of shiny gadgets. The only thing slowing us down was when we went threw a door or hatch. But we did it and would do it again.
Ninety minutes after it began, the attack was over. Two thousand and eight sailors were killed, and 710 others wounded; 218 soldiers and airmen (who were part of the Army until the independent U.S. Air Force was formed in 1947) were killed and 364 wounded; 109 marines were killed and 69 wounded; and 68 civilians were killed and 35 wounded. In total, 2,335 American soldiers died and 1,143 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. All of the Americans killed or wounded during the attack were non-combatants, given the fact there was no state of war when the attack occurred.
It’s interesting to note that the oil that leaks out of the USS Arizona Memorial drifts straight under the USS Missouri; the war started with one and ended with the other. However, there were other battleships that were hit that day including the Oklahoma, the West Virginia, the California, the Nevada, the Pennsylvania, the Tennessee and the Maryland. Some had servicemen in them, alive and trying to get out for several days but all the rescue efforts were of no avail. Five of these eight ships returned to service within months.
Altogether there were twenty-one ships damaged or lost in the attack. All but three were repaired. So, one could say that the attack was not the permanent knock-out-punch that the Japanese were hoping for. On top of that, all the American aircraft carriers were on maneuvers at sea and were untouched by this event.
Our tour guide driver was a character we shall not forget…just the kind we like! While waiting for all the passengers to return from the Air Museum, he brought out his acoustic guitar, plugged it into a small amp and sang to us the 1973 Eagles hit Tequila Sunrise in the key of D. He is not a Hawaiian native but hails from the mainland and is of Italian and Japanese heritage. His father fought in the Second World War and when he died later in life was honorably buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Yes, we were a bit disappointed not to board the USS Arizona Memorial but there are no complaints, considering everything we did and witnessed. A fun and interesting day!