Beltane and a sliver of the Island Moon
Monday gratefuls: Shipbuilders. Sailors. Surrender. Kamikazes. Monuments. Memorials. Our military. Joe’s knowledge of planes. His work. Seoah’s dedication to fitness. Mary’s, too. Guru and Brandeis.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Utah Memorial. The U.S. war against fascism. The Antifa.
June 6 addenda
World War II won’t let go of your attention here. Hickam and Pearl Harbor were the focus of the December 7th, 1941 attack by the Japanese Imperial Air Force. As I mentioned before the building where Joe worked retains bullet holes from Japanese Zeroes strafing it. A day FDR said will live in infamy.
Joe took Mary and me to the see the Big Mo, the battleship Missouri, the Pacific Air Museum, and the Utah Memorial, not available to tourists. Another day we’ll see the Pearl Harbor Museum and the Arizona.
The Big Mo is big. Really, really big. Last of the battleships. Took 3 years to build. Hard to imagine the process of creating something this big, this complicated. Crew quarters stuck in wherever there was available space. Soup pots larger than bakery dough mixing bowls. A room devoted to vegetable prep. A donut room, too. 1,897 souls on board. Offices small metal rooms, most alike. Distinguished only the by placard that named their use.
And, guns. Really big guns. According to the guide stationed near them, one of the big guns in the front weighed as much as a space shuttle. They used 1900 pounds of powder to shoot a 2700 pound shell that could travel up to 23 miles. Coming soon to a swat team near you. Battleships of the Iowa class had thick metal armor and serious weaponry.
When we climbed to the top deck, we were pretty damned far above the water. I tried to find a number, but couldn’t. Wouldn’t want to jump from it. The surrender deck, far below, had a medallion marking the exact spot where Japanese dignitaries signed the treaty that ended the Pacific War. Signed in Tokyo Harbor.
The white metal shroud over the Arizona lay a few hundred feet beyond the Missouri’s bow. We didn’t get there yesterday, but we did see the Utah Memorial*, a site only open to active military. This was a sober moment in the day since several of the crew’s bodies remain with their ship. Changes the tenor of site-seeing. A lot.
Realized I have only a vague understanding of WWII, especially the war in the Pacific. Gonna remedy that when I get back home. Read. Staying on Joint Pearl Harbor/Hickam Base puts a different perspective on it, not a tourist destination but a lived reality. Joe and his colleagues are lineal descendants of the men and women who lived, who died here during that War. Japan no longer the dominate threat, but its much larger neighbor, China.
The Pacific Air Museum has the iconic aircraft of the Pacific Theater. Near the entrance to the Hangar is a U.S. plane with bullet holes in its cockpit window, shot during the raid on Pearl Harbor. Just beyond it is a Japanese Zero, a plane so far ahead of its time that the military collected parts of one wrecked on the island of Ni’hau hoping to understand what made it special.
A Russian MIG. A Blue Angel jet. F-14’s, 15’s, and F-16’s. A B-52. Several prop planes. Great maps and labels. Dad was a pilot in WWII. Liaison planes. Basically Air Uber.
Joe’s knowledge of the aircraft, their electronics and weaponry impressed me. Necessary to his work.
*On December 7, 1941, the USS Utah, moored on the other side of Ford Island and hit by torpedoes at the start of the attack, quickly rolled over and sank. Fifty-eight of Utah‘s crew died. The ship was never salvaged and remains where it sank in Pearl Harbor. National Parks Service