Military Weekend 3
The islands of Hawai’i are one of America’s favorite vacation destinations.
They are also some of our most strategic national security assets and home to the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), a command whose area of responsibility covers about half the earth’s surface, from the shores of California and Alaska to India, from Antarctica to the North Pole.
A command that boasts approximately 360,000 military and civilian personnel and approximately 200 ships — including five aircraft carrier strike groups — and nearly 600 aircraft.
The tragic yet historic event on that “date which will live in infamy;” the many reminders of that date; the key role the islands played during the rest of World War II in the Pacific; the many military facilities and the presence of military personnel make it virtually impossible not to notice, remember and honor Hawaii’s history, memorials and military presence while enjoying the islands’ unmatched natural beauty and its people’s superb charm, friendliness and hospitality.
Here are some images of all of the above. But first one indelible historic image:
The USS Arizona burns after being hit by a Japanese bomb while U.S. sailors aboard the neighboring USS Tennessee spray fire hoses to force burning oil away from their ship during the air attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy photo, National Archives collection.)
The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, marking the final resting place of 1,103 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. Many survivors have elected to have their ashes interred within the wreck. (Photo: David de Wind)
The marble walls in the Memorial that bear the names of all those killed on the Arizona.(Photo: Carol de Wind)
Oil continues to seep to the surface from the sunken battleship and is often referred to as the “tears of the Arizona”. (Photo: Carol de Wind)
The torpedo room of the USS Bowfin, a Balao-class submarine with nine patrols in the Pacific during World War II and many sunken enemy vessels to her credit, now on display and open to public tours at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Photo by author)
The Battleship Missouri, or “Mighty Mo,” was commissioned in June 1944 and docked at Pearl Harbor in 1999. It is upon its deck, while in Tokyo Bay, where the Japanese surrendered to the United States. The “pairing” of the Missouri and the Arizona has become “an evocative symbol of the beginning and end of the United States’ participation in the war.” (Photo: Carol de Wind)
With 30 miles of beautiful beaches on the island of Oahu alone, what does one do for the military and their families on a summer weekend?
Throw a beachside picnic for 1500 military members and their families of course, as PACOM did this weekend on the beautiful beaches of Bellows Air Force Station, a 1,570-acre paradise within a paradise with miles and miles of pristine beaches tucked away on the Windward side of Oahu.
Complete with a band (Photo by author)
Thank you for your service and Aloha to all military personnel in “paradise.”
Lead photo of Oahu’s coast line by author’s grandson
Follow Dorian de Wind on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ddewind99