Although I was stationed in Hawaii in 1983 and 1984, I have very few memories of anything on the island of Oahu. I remember very little about the base at Pearl Harbor, even though I passed through the base at least twice in 1983.
I spent six months (give or take a few days) deployed away from Hawaii on the USS Tarawa, a Navy ship. My first entrance to Pearl Harbor was on the flight deck of that ship aboard a CH-46 helicopter. The USS Tarawa was decommissioned in 2009 and the CH-46 helicopters were retired by the Marine Corps in 2015.
When I woke up this morning, I had no intention of going anywhere. After all, today is Labor Day, a national holiday. My wife, Josie, and our daughter-in-law, Cathy, both started complaining about being bored. My son, Jonathan, who has to go to his usual Army job tomorrow morning, had nothing to say about it.
Since I can’t stand being nagged by anyone, I offered to drive them all to Pearl Harbor. They had previously mentioned they wanted to check out the Navy Exchange and commissary there. We left at around 1 pm and returned around 4 pm. It really isn’t that far away - I just don’t like the traffic.
Anyone with half a brain can read a map. Even so, it’s pretty easy to make a wrong turn. I didn’t make any wrong turns going there but I went the wrong way coming back.
I drove from HMR to Interstate H2 South, then to Interstate H2 East and exited at the off-ramp to the joint bases. I don’t remember the name of the exit. After the turn, I had a choice of going to Hickam or Pearl Harbor. I chose Pearl Harbor, naturally. After going through the gate, the route to the Navy Exchange was only a couple of lights and a right turn through an exit gate away.
When we left, I took a left turn when I should have taken a right and ended up going east instead of west. An exit, a u-turn and another entrance got me going in the right direction.
Although the USS Arizona Memorial reopened on September 1, I wasn’t sure if it was open today. I didn’t bother to check since it wasn’t on our list of things to do. We didn’t have much money on us since we finished our grocery shopping yesterday. In fact, the only thing we bought at the base was a sack of rice at the commissary.
Any American who attended elementary school in the United States should know the history of Pearl Harbor and the attack that sunk the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Although I remember visiting the memorial in 1983, no one else in my family has ever been there. I plan to take them back to Pearl Harbor specifically to visit the memorial on yet another boring weekend.
Since we were all low on funds, there wasn’t much that we could do. We talked about it, but we failed to take pictures or selfies near the Navy ships docked at one of the stops on base. That was the only failure we talked about. The biggest failure was not having a plan before leaving home.
I guess I have to call it an exploratory trip, just to get a feel of the area. Like I said earlier, I remember very little about the base.
Naval Station Pearl Harbor was merged with Hickam Air Force Base in 2010. They are both now part of a “joint base”, which makes no sense at all to anyone but the bean counters in Washington, DC.