Monday, November 9, 2015

Adventures in Paradise - Part 4

We woke early on Thursday, October 8 to meet the van in the hotel lobby for the Home of the Brave Tour at 5:30 a.m. Even in the summer, it’s still very dark at that time of the morning. Besides Len & Luanna, another couple from the Hale Koa hotel joined us on the tour. For the next week, it felt as though we were following each other around since we seemed to be at the same places at the same time.
We made a couple of other stops to pick up additional passengers before the actual tour began.
Our first stop was Fort Shafter, the headquarters of the US Army of the Pacific. During WWII, this was the center of Pacific Operations.
We arrived just before dawn and exited the bus just in time to see the raising of the flag, escorted by an honor guard. In addition, the cannon was shot in salute. What a fitting beginning to a day dedicated to the events of December 7, 1941.
Our tour guide, Olav, was a true student of the story of the Pearl Harbor attack. As the day progressed, he walked us through the events of that morning. He concentrated on the stories of individual participants in the activities, making the story personal and meaningful.
Next, we went to Pearl Harbor for the Navy tour of the USS Arizona Memorial. We had intended to visit the memorial on this trip. Len and Lu had taken the Home of the Brave Tour about twenty years earlier and wanted to do it again, so we opted to go with them. It was one of the highlights of the trip.
The USS Missouri is now a museum, and we saw it from the Navy transport on the way out to the Arizona, but we did not have time to visit this time.
We were able to take additional notes while on the memorial for our next Agapé Jones mystery—the major reason for taking the tour. Visiting the memorial is always a moving experience.
On we went to Wheeler Army Airfield, where many aircraft were lined up for storage on the morning of the attack. The Japanese strafed the field and destroyed most of the aircraft. However, several pilots were able to get to planes into the air and engage in aerial battle.
Next, we went to Schofield Barracks, home of the 25th Infantry division, where we ate lunch. We arrived on the day when the division celebrated its birthday, so the troops marched in formation through the base as we watched, forming a lasting memory.
After lunch, we visited the museum and learned even more about the location and its history.
We drove to “The Punchbowl,” the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Unfortunately, due to vandalism, tour groups are no longer allowed to leave their vehicles to walk around the memorial. Fortunately, we have visited the place on several previous tours
Our final stop was at the Home of the Brave Brewseum. Downstairs is an amazing collection of WWII memorabilia—including the old motorcycle shown here. Many of the items have been donated by the families of WWII veterans.
Upstairs, the owners have a microbrewery.
Altogether, the day was educational, emotional, and moving. I was once again reminded of the sacrifices of those, including our fathers, who gave several years of their lives in order to assure the safety of those at home.
I highly recommend this tour if you are ever in Honolulu.

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