Skip to comments.Hickam quiet on this Dec. 7
Posted on 12/07/2005 4:42:37 PM PST by SandRat
12/7/2005 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- The Pacific Air Forces headquarters building -- and this base -- is quiet today, the 64th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
But on Dec. 7, 1941, it was a major target during the infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field that drew the United States into World War II.
The base held a ceremony that started at 7:55 a.m. -- the precise time the Japanese attack began -- to commemorate the more than 2,400 people who died that day. The ceremony was held at the main base flag pole.
During the ceremony a flight of F-15 Eagles from the 154th Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard flew a missing man formation over the ceremony.
Col. William Changose, the 15th Airlift Wing commander, and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii -- a World War II veteran -- were at the ceremony.
What began as a quiet Sunday morning across the island -- and at Hickam, Bellows and Wheeler air fields -- suddenly changed as Japanese Airmen seeking air superiority over the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific region rained fire down on the sleepy unsuspecting island, the colonel said at the ceremony.
More than 350 aircraft attacked the island from their aircraft carriers bases.
What the Japanese didnt realize was that their bold attack, as we all know, awakened a sleeping giant, the colonel said.
During the attack, a tidal wave of courage and determination called brave men and women into action throughout the island, Colonel Changose said.
Men and women stood strong while under attack in the face of danger and devastation, he said.
The bombing and strafing of Hickam was an important Japanese objective because the success of the attack on the Pacific Fleet depended on eliminating air opposition. And while the attack was demoralizing -- it nearly knocked out the Pacific Fleet -- the U.S. military soon took the fight to the Japanese.
The attack came as a total surprise to the troops then stationed at Hickam Field and living in what is now the PACAF headquarters building.
One year after the building was completed -- while troops slept or ate breakfast -- several bombs crashed through the roof. They killed practically everyone on the top floor. The dining hall took a direct hit from a 500-pound bomb, instantly killing 35 men.
In all, Hickam suffered extensive property damage, aircraft losses and casualties totaling 189 killed and 303 wounded.
Evidence of the attack is hard to find today. And the bases well-groomed and sedate appearance hides the fact it is the headquarters for U.S. military might in the Pacific.
Today Airmen work in the many areas of the headquarters. But in 1941 it was a barracks housing 3,200 enlisted men. Named Hale Makai -- Hawaiian for home by the sea -- it had all the facilities needed for convenience. It had two barber shops, a laundry and tailor shop, a post exchange, medical dispensary, day rooms and a huge consolidated chow hall.
The people who work there do not always think of the history behind their workplace.
Every day as I walk into the building, I see the bomb-damaged exterior. I cant help but think about those who lost their lives while serving here, said Tech. Sgt. Martin Jackson, who works in the commands public affairs office.
To think that 64 years ago today such a world-changing event happened right here where I work, the sergeant said. It is truly an honor to work in such an historic building.
In 1985 the National Park Service designated the headquarters, and a few other buildings on Hickam, as historic landmarks.
Today, those buildings house a new breed of Airmen. They are locked in a battle, too -- the war on terrorism. And like their predecessors, they have a key mission to maintain peace in the Pacific and around the world.
But they do not forget the past -- the bullet and shrapnel holes are still visible on buildings.
The holes remain as a reminder of the attack and the need to stay ever vigilant, said wing historian Steve Diamond.
Remember Pearl Harbor!!!
And back then the sleeping giant had enough sense and selflessness to stay awake. Never forget.
I've been to that headquarters building. The large divots in the solid concrete exterior caused by the Japanese machine-guns are very impressive. It looked to me like some of the bullets actually penetrated all the way through. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in the building and getting strafed like that.
I am royally hacked that there apparently is not ONE good old war movie on TV today.
Now I'm going to have to get off FR and check out the situation here. By the same token I have The Longest Day, The Green Berets, Midway, A Bridge Too Far, The Devils Brigade, and The Battle of Britain all on VCR.
Oh, good idea; I'll go see what I have, but I don't think it compares to those!
Today I read a list of names of those who died there.
I went to the space that would have recorded the name of a precious Uncle and thanked God for His grace and protection.
That war cost us heavily but at least he was spared the opening volley.
Dec. 7th BUMP!
PATTON was on.
And I missed it.
I have had the TV on in the background while working almost all day today, and not one mention of Pearl Harbor. You would think the History channel would have something on.
oops.. looking back at the TV schedule, I guess they did.
Thanks for the ping. We must never forget Pearl Harbor, lest we be that unprepared again.
December 7 is always a good day for "Tora, Tora, Tora" with emphasis on the very last line in the movie.
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