Pearl Harbor. With Veterans Day upon us, it is the perfect time to tour this important place of living history. How many times have you seen a news clip on TV or in the newspaper and thought, I will go? Someday, I will go. This is a memory you need to bank. Take a day to learn, wonder, absorb, and honor our troops, both globally and here in Hawaii.
Oahu has the largest diversified population of active United States Military in the United States. We welcome thousands of men and women who are here to serve their country, and many more who are retired and working for the Department of Defense. 19 bases in all.
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a must. It will move you. This is the #1 visited attraction in Hawaii...more than our very active volcano. Pearl Harbor is actually Joint Base Pearl Harbor - Hickam. Pearl Harbor Naval Base and Hickam Air Force Base merged during January 2010 in the effort by the Military to streamline operations and become more efficient.
While certainly a solemn and humbling experience, Pearl Harbor will also find you leaving its home base with a true sense of patriotic pride and grit. At least, that's exactly how I felt, and I believe you will, too. I have been there on several occasions, both with my family and guests visiting Hawaii.
Free admission. Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. This museum and memorial commemorate the men and women who gave their lives, and details the circumstances that led up to the attack. The museum that walks you through the events that led up to the attack on Pearl Harbor is presented in such a way that one can linger at certain exhibits and really see what occurred before, during, and after this sad event.
USS Arizona Memorial
The museum is very well organized with good flow, and the exhibits are truly fascinating. I learned so much that I never knew I never knew. It's quite interactive and even the little ones become absorbed into the presentations.
There is always a lot of chit-chat on the tender boat over to the memorial. It is intriguing to me how quickly that stops once you arrive. Sudden silence. Honor. Respect. Even peopled with dozens of tourists, it's a solemn, quiet place. A place to lend reverence to those that served this great country. The boat ride back is far quieter.
Located right next door to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center, there are three different attractions in Bowfin Park. There is a free outdoor museum on both sides of the indoor museum with missiles, memorials, and gunnery exhibits. The 10,000 square foot indoor museum is filled with interesting submarine-related exhibits.
USS Bowfin Submarine
Visitors can also walk through the actual USS Bowfin Submarine, which is docked in the water just outside the museum. The outdoor exhibits are free, however, there is a $10.00 admission charge to enter the indoor museum and tour the submarine. After touring the sub, newfound respect for those men and women living onboard. Such tight quarters.
You will have to catch a shuttle to get here, but do it. You won't be sorry. Commissioned in June 1944, she is most famous for being the site of the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2nd, 1945. Fascinating to witness life upon a battleship, to walk through. Brings entirely new meaning and understanding of what our military live like on a daily basis.
USS Missouri Battleship
Located on Ford Island, you have to grab a shuttle from the USS Arizona to get there. Great exhibits here. A significant collection of original, historic aircraft including a Japanese Zero Fighter, Navy Wildcat Fighter, B-25 Mitchell Bomber, 1942 Stearman Biplane, and the AeronCA 65TC civilian plane that was attacked by the Japanese as they approached Pearl Harbor. It was mistaken for a military plane. Other exhibits include the Battle of Niihau display and a hands-on Flight Simulator. Good stuff!
Tip: Keep an Eye Out for the "Golf Ball"
On your visit to Pearl Harbor, if you happen to see the X Band Radar System sea faring vessel, consider yourself very lucky! Around here, we call it the "Golf Ball." This is a floating, self-propelled, mobile active electronically scanned array radar station designed to operate in high winds and heavy seas.
The "Golf Ball"
It is part of the U.S. Defense Department Ballistic Missile Defense System. It's a massive structure that defies the imagination. How it maneuvers is amazing. It skuttles...does not steer with a curve. Look it up. Do you see the cruise ship behind it? Cruise ships are huge by anyone's estimation, but pales by comparison in size. I've seen it towed into Pearl Harbor on several occasions from our beach house. Impressive indeed.
Take time to give a shout out and salute our Military. They so deserve it.