Today dedicated to Remembrance Week

Trip Start Nov 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 27, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, November 18, 2011

The tour bus arrived promptly at 6:15am, just before dawn.  The irony: I was on my way to Pearl Harbor at exactly the same time that six Japanese aircraft carriers turned into the wind and launched their planes.  That was 70 years ago, almost to the day.  Another generation's 9/11, but worse.

It was really a brillantly planned attack.  The task force travelled over 4,000 miles across the Pacific with the Americans knowing something was up -- just not knowing where or when.  Two hundred miles north of Oahu, they launched.  In the dawn sunrise, two waves of fighters, bombers & torpedo planes swooped down on the American airfields to take out the air threat before they turned to Pearl Harbor.  Fortunately for the US, the few aircraft carriers they had were not in harbor.  Over 400 died in the USS Oklahoma which 'turned turtle' trapping sailors inside.  (When the battleship was righted, salvagers found the victims inside didn't all die quickly.  Going from compartment to compartment to recover bodies, they discovered one sailor had kept a tally of his days trapped below....the last inscription was Dec 23.) 

Other than attacking the US in the first place, the Japanese made some mistakes, too.  They didn't occupy Oahu; they didn't blow up 16 fuel tanks in the harbor (some say that could have added 18 months to the war); they didn't launch a third wave of attacks to bomb the submarine pens (that went operational at once).  All but three American battleships were repaired and back in the war.  Four of the six Japanese aircraft carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor were sunk just six months later in the Battle of Midway.

But it was the USS Arizona memorial I came to visit, a war grave for over 1,100 men.  Their ship was struck by an armor-piercing bomb, exploding a magazine that raised the ship 10' in the air.  It was on the bottom in nine minutes.  I was honoured to remember those lost men who served their country, not yet knowing they were at war.

Back to the beach.

Tomorrow it's another tour, up-close-and-personal with magma.  Better wear my boots.
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