Friday, February 6, 2015

USS Missouri and Arizona Memorial

On our last full day on Oahu we went to Pearl Harbor to see the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri that is also known as the Mighty Mo. The day was quite an experience. We met and had conversations with so many that showed great appreciation for Jim and his career of service. One woman actually thanked him with tears in her eyes. I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions that day.

While on the Arizona Memorial I felt overwhelmed by of joy and grief. Grief for those lost that day and joy that my sailor always came home. For most of those I saw visiting the memorial it was a solemn and respectful time. For some no emotions were induced and they spent their time looking for the perfect spot to smile like an idiot and take a selfie with their phone on a stick.

Our next stop that day was a tour of the Mighty Mo. Jim had been on the Missouri in the late 1980s. He was part of a training team preparing ship and crew for whatever it could be called upon to do. The USS Missouri is being taken care of by a nonprofit organization doing its best to preserve the historic ship. It was on the decks of this ship that Japan's unconditional surrender was signed to end WWII.

We had a wonderful conversation with a man whose father worked in a shipyard during the war. His father was part of the labor force that installed the engines in these battleships including the USS Missouri. It was amazing to me to have that connection from the ship's beginning with one of the sailors that served near the end of the ship's active service.

Our tour did not include engineering spaces and Jim was a bit disappointed about not being able to see the boiler room. Those areas were where he worked as a BT, Boiler Technician, during his career. Some of the other spaces like the Chief's Mess, he said, looked exactly as he remembered. He swears that in the Chief's Mess there was the same couch he sat on at the beginning or end of his day and do paperwork while of course drinking lots of coffee.

Our last dinner was at a place on Waikiki Beach. Our waiter was a former Marine who spotted Jim's USN tattoo and they started talking as former military members tend to do. At the end of dinner the waiter let us know that in honor of Jim's time in the Navy the restaurant manager who was former Army let us have dinner at half price. It was just such a nice thing to do and a perfect way to end our vacation.

Next morning at oh my gosh it's early we were headed to the airport and home.

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