Edit Blog Post
Published: February 4th 2015
Day 17 – Jan. 27, 2015 – Port of call: Honolulu, HI on the Island of O’Ahu – Weather forecast: mostly sunny – temperature: 75°F/24°C
The ship docked in Honolulu Harbor, which is used for commercial shipping and is south of Pearl Harbor, which is reserved for military uses. The pier we tied up to is near the Aloha Tower about half way between Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor.
We got up early in anticipation of our 7:15 am departure and had our breakfast in the room. Unfortunately the ship did not actually dock until 7:30 setting everything back ½ to ¾ of an hour. When we arrived at the stairwell leading to Deck 3 we found it blocked by everyone eager to get off and away on their tours but cleared quickly once the gangway had been set in place and we were allowed to approach it. Once we were ashore and clear of the passenger hall we found our group leader/driver and headed off to our 20-person bus and started our day on the road.
Today’s shore excursion: Pearl Harbor VIP Military Base Experience is
scheduled to be approximately 7.5 hours including lunch. The shore excursion pamphlet described today’s tour as a fascinating and nostalgic look into the events of the 1940s. Guided by historians in WWII uniforms, the tour was to enjoy exclusive access to WWII battlefields: Wheeler Army Airfield, Schofield Army Barracks & Fort Shafter, a visit to the Arizona Memorial & a drive through Punchbowl Cemetery. The tour concluded with a drive through Honolulu and a stop at ‘Home of the Brave’ – a private WWII Museum. Authentic radio music and commentary accompanied by actual newsreel footage and documentaries will be played on the tour bus.
As we were late in setting off, due to our delayed docking, we missed our previously scheduled tour time for the USS Arizona Memorial, which is now part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument run by the National Park Service. Our tour guide arranged with a colleague who was already at the Memorial to obtain tickets for a later time slot at 9:15. Throughout the day as we drove from site to site our guide used his DVD player to highlight some of the events surrounding the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor.
Just as we disembarked from the bus, we paused as a bugle sounded in the distance, and exactly at 8:00 am the national anthem of the United States was played and the US colours were raised on the naval vessels at anchor in the harbour. We entered the park where our guide introduced us to Herb Weatherwax, a 92-year old native Hawaiian, who was a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Herb, who was in the Army, went on to see combat in Europe and wrote of his experiences in an autobiography entitled “Counting My Blessings”.
In the time leading up to our scheduled visit to the Arizona we had the opportunity to visit the museum near the dock where we could see actual pieces of equipment that were present on that fateful morning as well as a number of large scale models of the Arizona and the Akagi, one of the Japanese carriers that took part in the raid. An interesting feature of all the displays was the inclusion of miniature cast metal models for the blind to touch.
The tour out to
the Arizona started with a 20-minute film, which provided an overview of the events of December 7, 1941 and its aftermath. The film also provided an explanation of how the Arizona Memorial came into existence. Following the film we boarded a harbour craft, with two US Marines in charge, for the short ride across the harbour to the site. There we had about 20 minutes to view the site, pay our respects to the fallen, take our photos and then get back on the shuttle. One interesting feature of the visit was the new memorial wall listing all the names of the sailors and marines who were trapped in the hull of the Arizona. In the late 1980s a survivor of the sinking asked that his ashes be buried with his fallen comrades. His request was granted and since then at least two dozen other men have been granted the same privilege; their names are inscribed on two smaller memorial panels. The volunteer, a retired US Marine, providing that information indicated that there are fewer than a dozen men left of that crew and once they pass the honour of being interred on the ship will cease.
One of the interesting legends is that once the last survivor dies and joins his crewmates the oil leaking from the hull will stop. The oil is referred to the Tears of the Arizona.
The USS Missouri, better known as the Mighty ‘Mo’, has been converted into a floating museum and is docked along Battleship Row with her bow pointing directly at the USS Arizona in a protective posture.
After leaving the Memorial we were driven north to Wheeler Air Force Base, which was also attacked on December 7, 1941 and is now home to an air cavalry unit. Here we stopped for our lunch at the base’s officer bar and grill. Close by is Schofield Barracks which serves as the Headquarters of the U.S. Army, Pacific. We ended our day with a drive through the National Cemetery overlooking the city and then back into the core of Honolulu to a privately run WWII Museum that has collected a large amount of memorabilia about the military stationed on Oahu in the 1940s.
Back on board ship we passed on the local entertainment performing traditional Polynesian music and dance. Instead we ended
our day, sitting on lounge chairs and eating popcorn, on the forward deck watching Elvis Presley in “Blue Hawaii” projected onto an inflatable screen. The evening weather was lovely for this and it brought back memories of going to the drive-in!
Tot: 0.048s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 10; qc: 25; dbt: 0.0081s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb