The journey continues...

Sunday, March 19th...This was meant to be sort of an open day as I had to pack, switch hotel rooms and unpack along with meeting up with the tour group at 6:30 PM for a kickoff orientation and dinner. I had one more special place I still wanted to visit for another trip down memory lane.

There was a hotel on Waikiki Beach that had a huge banyan tree out on the patio leading to the beach. Forty years ago, I had found an old family album and there was a photo of my Grandfather taken in 1918 when he was in the Navy standing by that banyan tree. The reason it was meaningful was because I had also found a photo of my Mom and Dad taken in 1947 and they were standing right in front of the exact same tree!

 What makes this more significant is that my parents never realized it was the same setting until I pointed it out to them. It was just pure coincidence. Also in 1992, my wife Donna and I were on a vacation in Honolulu. We decided to seek out that same hotel and recreate the photo setting by that banyan tree.

So off I went today, once again, to find that hotel. It's now the Moana Surfrider...

but that same banyan tree is still there!

Mission accomplished??? not quite. 

 I was looking around and saw two elderly men in wheelchairs wearing baseball type caps who were being tended to by some people. I walked closer for a better view and sure enough, both caps said Iwo Jima. I didn’t want to intrude but I could not pass up this opportunity. I approached their table and the two men and escorts had name tags with labels saying The National WWII Museum.

 Their guide was a retired USMC Sgt Major. I politely asked if I could thank these heroes. The result was a wonderful, meaningful, conversation. They were delighted to speak with me and also allowed me to get a photo.

Lawrence St Clair, who is on the right in the photo, turned 100 on December 7th, 2022. He was on Iwo from March 1st until the Island was secured. Dale Faughn, who is a spry 97 years old, was a Marine sniper and was on Iwo from February 19th until March 16th. He was with the 5th Division. He married his college sweetheart in 1949. He has had an unbelievable life including teaching school for 61 years and being named Kentucky Poet Laureate for 1986. He graciously signed a copy of a poem he wrote entitled "I Met The Flag at Iwo Jima"...

and gave me a copy of his book of poems. It was a very special interaction which I shall never forget.

Monday, March 20th....OMG...What a day! Our group of 15 spent the entire day at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.  

Many in the group are USMC Veterans including four Vietnam USMC aviators and two retired USMC Generals.

We started the day with a guided tour of the USS Bowfin which was a very active WWII submarine sinking 16 enemy vessels. She is on permanent display at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. 

You can read all about her online, but she is truly a sight to behold. Here is a shot of the aft torpedo room as well as me on the conning tower.

Next, it was on to the USS Missouri which is most famous as the location of the surrender of the Japanese on September 2nd,1945, in Tokyo Bay. We received another special VIP tour. 

You all know most of the details. It is an honor to actually walk on her teak decks and see the huge brass plaque.

After that tour it was on to the extremely large Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum which is located on historic Ford Island where my Dad was stationed during and after the war. You would not believe the number of aircraft from multiple conflicts located in huge hangars and outdoors. There are three different types of Japanese bombers or fighter aircraft along with a cool B-17 undergoing restoration and a very cool B-25 which happens to be called The Ruptured Duck. There are thousands of other artifacts including a piece of the USS Arizona. 


B-25 Ruptured Duck

Jap Zero

Piece of the Arizona


At 3 PM, we gathered at the entrance to the pre-exhibit for the Arizona. They saved the last boat out to the site for us and once again it was guided by a retired USN captain. 

This is hallowed ground and you are given plenty of time to pay your respects.


Calvin and Monica Kirchhoff are very good friends and Calvin told me he lost an uncle who was a 22 year old Seaman 1st Class on board the Arizona. I was determined to find his name on the memorial wall. I told the whole group about it and one of the group was kind enough to snap a photo of me taking the picture of his uncle’s name on the memorial wall.

We literally saw some oil rising from the ship which is referred to as "the black tears". It was a very memorable end to a full day of touring,


Here are some more photos to motivate you to make this journey.

With a another full day under my belt, STAY TUNED for what's next!!