Pearl Harbor Memorial
Pearl Harbor Memorial is one of the most popular destinations in the Hawaiian Islands. It is full of history and stands to this day as a potent projection of U.S. naval power in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor was known as “Wai Nomiâ” by the Hawaiians, meaning “pearl water” for the oysters once harvested there. It is famed as the center of the devastating surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, drawing the U.S. into World War II as a result of that notorious “day that will live in infamy”.
Pearl Harbor is the largest harbor in the Hawaiian Islands and is the only U.S. naval base that is also a National Historical Landmark. If you appreciate history and seek a place to honor the courageous men and women of World War II, Pearl is the place.
USS Arizona Memorial
This profoundly sacred memorial perhaps best symbolizes where WWII all began. At 8:06 a.m. on December 7th, 1941 the USS Arizona was hit by a 1,700-pound armor-piercing bomb. The explosion ignited its forward ammunition magazine, resulting in a catastrophic explosion. The mighty Arizona sank in a mere nine minutes, killing 1,177 crewmen.
The USS Arizona Memorial is both educational and deeply moving as you learn about the fateful day that plunged our nation into war and instantly transformed the picturesque harbor into a deadly, smoking inferno. Start your tour at the Visitor Center, full of intriguing exhibits, artifacts and a very well done film that chronicles the events leading up to the attack, through the Arizona’s death throes.
From the Visitor Center, you will take a short boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, floating serenely above the submerged ship, which is also the final resting place of the young sailors who went down with her. Inside the walls of this marble shrine are inscribed the names of the hundreds of sailors whose lives were cut short on that fateful day. Learn more here about the USS Arizona.
Battleship Missouri Memorial
A perfect complement to the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri serves as the other bookend in the Pearl Harbor/War of the Pacific saga. Here on the deck of the Battleship Missouri is where General Douglas Macarthur received the unconditional surrender from the Japanese, ending WWII on September 2, 1945.
Moored at Pearl Harbor’s historic Battleship Row, the 60,000 ton “Mighty Mo” is an amazing spectacle of engineering and a testament of naval warfare victory, serving the U.S. Navy through half a century and three wars.
Most impressive is her sheer scale: the length of three football fields, and twenty stories tall. Her incredible 16 fett diameter guns could hurl a 2,700 pound high-explosive shell up to 25 miles. For your best Mighty Mo experience, take a guided tour. These professional story tellers bring the past alive as they escort you through some of Mo’s more interesting restricted areas. Learn more here about the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
No story of the U.S. Navy would be complete without recounting the exploits our daring submariners. The U.S.S. Bowfin, (SS-287) is just one of the many WWII subs that took the war to the enemy from beneath the waves. Subs comprised less than 2% of the U.S. fleet, but sank over 30% of Japan’s Navy, including eight Japanese aircraft carriers!
Launched on December 7, 1942, exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bowfin was nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger. With nine successful patrols, she sunk 39 enemy merchant ships and four Japanese naval ships.
If you have watched any WWII era movies or action shows about subs, you willl love this hands-on, up close adventure touring the Bowfin. “Up periscope!”, an amazing array of vintage technology from the engine room to the torpedo room is an education in itself. The tight sleeping and living quarters will give you insight into the life of the undersea warriors–who risked, perished and endured, doing their part to win the war. Learn more here about the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
Pacific Aviation Museum
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor on historic Ford Island is housed in two hangars and includes the Ford Island Control Tower which still bears the scars as our nation’s first aviation battlefield. This venue is considered one of the top aviation museums in the nation.
Pacific Aviation Museum is not just a large collection of beautifully preserved vintage aircraft, but the historic site of hellacious strafing and aerial bombardment from the enemy and desperate acts of courage as frantic members of the U.S. Army Air Corp fought to launch a counter attack and just stay alive during the Japanese attack.
The tour begins in Hangar 37, an original 42,000 square foot seaplane hangar that survived the onslaught. A twelve minute film transports you back to the day of the battle. The museum’s vivid exhibits draw you deeper into the stories of tragedy and heroism from the airman’s perspective. Get up-close looks at an authentic Japanese “Zero” of the very type used in the attack, as well an American P-40 fighter of the type launched in counter offensive from Wheeler and Haleiwa Fields on that Day of Infamy.
The visitors to the museum can get more hands-on with interactive simulators and exhibits that showcase the myriad of WWII fighters, bombers and the daring men who flew them. Learn more here about the Pacific Aviation Museum.
USS Oklahoma Memorial
429 marines and sailors perished onboard the venerable, World War I era battleship USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. The USS Oklahoma Memorial was dedicated December 7, 2007 on Ford Island. Known affectionately as “the Okie”, she was another of the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s capitol ships. The Okie capsized in a mere twelve minutes after she was slammed by nine torpedoes during the attack.
Alarmingly, some crewmen were discovered still trapped in compartments below decks of the floundering ship. The desperate sailors pounded away with hammers and wrenches to signal rescue crews. Cutting through thick steel for two days, rescuers were eventually able to free 32 men from the hull of the Oklahoma. Go here to learn more about the USS Oklahoma Memorial.
Pearl Harbor Memorial is a key heritage site of the Hawaiian Islands. Located in central Oahu, it is only about 30 minutes from Waikiki.