Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

Honolulu, Day One

I somewhat perplexed daisy_knotwise yesterday, when I confided in her that most of what I know about Hawaii comes from an ancient comic book, "Dennis the Menace Goes to Hawaii". What can I say? I've been reading these things for a very long time.

Anyway, Gretchen and I went in different directions today in Honolulu. Carol (Jeff's wife), Jerry, and I went to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri; Jeff and Gretchen went on an island tour because the Arizona Memorial would have been "too sad". This is understandable.

If you're planning to go to the Arizona Memorial, you want to go really early, because the line for (free) tickets is immensely long. We got there about 8:15 and stood in line for 45 minutes to get tickets for the presentation and memorial that would get us in at 11:30. This is about what our bus driver and tour guide, Cousin John, expected, so we headed over to the USS Missouri after getting the tickets.

You ride a free shuttle over to the Missouri, where the tickets aren't free, but were included in our tour package. (I nearly bollixed this up by getting on the shuttle that our driver wasn't getting on. Since he had the group pass, this was a bad plan. But he retrieved the three of us from the shuttle before it left and explained about the tickets, which he hadn't done before, or I wouldn't have gotten on the shuttle. But I digress...

Anyway, the Missouri is one of four Iowa class battleships that were built during World War II. The Missouri made its first voyage in 1944 and saw substantial action in the Pacific theater in the last year of the war. It was also -- as I had forgotten -- the site of the Japanese surrender in 1945. It was mothballed in the 1950s; then brought back for active duty in the 1980s. It sailed to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm, which was its final action before being decommissioned. It was snagged for the Pearl Harbor exhibition in 1999 and was really the highlight of the day.

If you've been through the captured German submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, you'll find that the Missouri has very much the same feel of a warship that's being converted to be preserved as a museum, complete with bits and pieces of memorabilia from the men who served there, including things like paintings on the walls and a chess set marked "Do not move, game in progress". The site of the Japanese surrender is commemorated with a seal set into the deck, along with copies of the surrender documents.

Did I mention that the Missouri has really big guns? They said that they could fire a shell a distance of 20 miles.

Carol and I left the Missouri a few minutes early so that we would have time to wander over toward the USS Bowfin museum near the shuttle stop on the Arizona end of the tour. This is a monument to World War II submarine warfare in the Pacific and includes the option to tour the Bowfin, which we decided to skip for sake of time. But it looked like it would likely be interesting, if a bit cramped. (I'm a bit large for a submarine. Carol would have been fine, I suppose.)

The Arizona memorial trip starts with a short presentation in a theater with actual footage from pre-War and World War II vintage film (newsreels and the like) explaining the run up to the war and the attack on Pearl Harbor, including film shot during the attack that captured the explosion that sank the Arizona. (Caused by a shell that penetrated the ammo store.) After the film, you take a shuttle boat out to the permanent memorial built over the site of the sunken ship. Small bits of the ship's structure still penetrate above the water. There are slightly less than 1000 men who died in the Arizona and are buried with her.

As Gretchen surmised, it's a very sad thing. I took off my hat when we got on the shuttle and didn't put it back on until we'd returned. It seemed, somehow, like the right thing to do.

We went on a bus tour around parts of Honolulu after that, but we mostly didn't get off the bus, so it was a good bit less interesting than it might have been otherwise.

Since the ship is in dock now and not bouncing around, I'm going to try getting into the Jacuzzi for the first time this trip. My sore, tired legs (mostly from yesterday's hike) should appreciate it.
Tags: musings, vacation

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