Tuesday, May 3, 2011
A Brothers' War
We started our day with a VIP barge tour of Ford Island, the primary target of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, located within Pearl Harbor. Our first stop was the “forgotten” memorial of the USS Utah. All that we could see of the ship was its rusted hull sticking up near the shoreline. Next, we sailed to the memorial of the USS Nevada, which beached in an ill-fated attempt to sail out of the harbor. Later, we sailed past the USS Missouri, known as the “Mighty Mo,” on our way to the USS Arizona Memorial. The fact that the Missouri and the Arizona are next to each other is significant in that the sinking of the Arizona marked America’s entrance into the war, while the surrender of Japan occurred on the “Mighty Mo.” From the Arizona Memorial, we spotted small drops of oil still surfacing from the remains of the sunken ship after nearly seventy years.
Throughout the day, we were able to listen to stories from our veteran, Parke Piper, who served in the Marine Corps for three years. He is a quiet, reserved man, yet as the week has progressed, he has begun to open up to us more and more. Although he was not at Pearl Harbor during the attack, he was later stationed here. Parke told us about a specific time when he had to pull one of his buddies out of the cockpit of a crashed plane. The man told Parke that he would never forget him as long as he lived. The man died the next day, but Parke has still remembered him all of these years.
Later, we visited the Pacific Aviation Museum where Parke and his brother, Guy, pointed out some of the planes in which they had flown during their military service. As we observed a detailed map of Ford Island, Guy pointed out the barracks from which he had observed the initial attack on Pearl Harbor. After we left the museum, we drove over to the barracks and Guy located the window of the room where he had lived while stationed on the island. These two brothers have been extremely inspirational through their humble attitudes as they revisit the tragic and moving experiences throughout the war in the Pacific. As our trip has progressed, we have learned to admire our veterans as true heroes to our nation. We will never forget them.
Amanda Kull and James Mahan