Tag Archives: USS Arizona

USS Arizona artifact honors the fallen

Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell’s mission is accomplished.

A piece of an iconic historical treasure is now in display at the Texas Panhandle War Memorial. It is a small section of the USS Arizona, the World War I-era battleship that was sunk 77 years ago today at the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese fighter pilots.

The event thrust the United States into World War II.

More than 1,000 men died on the Arizona.

Houdashell made it his mission to bring a piece of the sunken ship to Amarillo, to display it at the War Memorial, which honors the men from the Texas Panhandle who fell in battle in conflicts dating back to the Spanish-American War.

The judge told KFDA NewsChannel 10: “Pearl Harbor, the Arizona, is a cemetery,” said Judge Houdashell. “There’s hundreds of men still buried on that. We have a piece of a national relic and it’s a sacred relic. Very few people have a piece that big. There’s a little bitty piece at the WWII Museum but we have a huge piece.

He meant to welcome the display on Pearl Harbor Day, when the nation remembers the event that mobilized the nation into a new era of industrial and military might in the fight to quell the tyrants in Europe and Asia who sought to conquer the world.

I am delighted that Ernie Houdashell accomplished his mission, just as he worked to bring the F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter and the UH-1 Huey helicopter — both Vietnam War relics — to the War Memorial grounds at the site of the former Randall County Courthouse Annex in south Amarillo.

These displays are important to Houdashell, who served two tours in the Vietnam War himself and who wears his love of country on his sleeve. Indeed, they are important to all Americans, all of us who understand the sacrifice made by those who fell in battle. The names of the Panhandle sons who fell are inscribed on the stone tablets that stand on the memorial grounds.

They now are accompanied by yet another historical artifact, a reminder of the horror of the bloodiest war the world has ever seen. May it stand as the worst the world will ever see.

USS Arizona still gets earned reverence

A social media acquaintance of mine has voiced an objection to the placing of a USS Arizona artifact eventually at the Texas Panhandle War Memorial.

She believes the Arizona is too sacred a place — a resting place for more than 1,000 U.S. servicemen — to be taken apart for display in other locations.

I will disagree with all due respect to this person.

I happen to endorse the idea of placing this artifact at the War Memorial. I also happen to agree with her that the USS Arizona — a World War I-era battle wagon that was sunk by Japanese bombers on Dec. 7, 1941 — is a sacred place.

But the ship’s hulk that rests on the bottom of Honolulu harbor isn’t being dismantled. It isn’t being taken apart. The sailors’ remains are still interred with the superstructure that sank during the attack. Thus, they haven’t been disturbed.

The USS Arizona serves to remind all Americans who came along after the Second World War of the sacrifices made by those who served in harm’s way.

We all can rest assured, in my view, that the War Memorial board — along with Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell, who engineered the delivery of the Arizona artifact — will ensure that it is displayed with all due respect and reverence.

As for the ship’s hulk that will serve forever as a reminder of the “date which will live in infamy,” it remains a sacred place.

USS Arizona to add to War Memorial

AMARILLO, Texas — I guess it can be stated clearly: A piece of one of the darkest days in U.S. history is going to adorn the Texas Panhandle War Memorial in south Amarillo.

It’s the product of some wheeling and dealing by Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell, who has been working with federal and state of Hawaii officials to bring a piece of the USS Arizona to the Texas Panhandle.

They’re going to add the piece to the War Memorial on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7. It will arrive around 11 a.m. Saturday at the Randall County Event Center, where they’ll have a welcoming ceremony.

This is an extremely poignant addition to the War Memorial, which already includes — in addition to the stone tablets chronicling the conflicts this nation has engaged in and those who died in them — an F-100 Super Sabre jet and a UH-1 Huey helicopter.

The Arizona was one of several big ships sunk in Pearl Harbor more than seven decades ago in the event that brought the United States into World War II. President Roosevelt called it a “date which will live in infamy.”

It’s a date we cannot forget. We must always remember it.

Judge Houdashell told me some months ago about the Arizona memento coming here. He was thrilled beyond belief to get it done.

I am proud of my friend for scoring this magnificent addition to the War Memorial.

No apology coming for Pearl Harbor attack? It should

abe-obama

That settles that issue, I guess.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is coming to the United States late this month for a state visit with President Obama.

He won’t apologize for what his forebears did on Dec. 7, 1941. You see, Abe will be at the place where the United States was drawn into World War II. He’ll visit Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He’ll likely tour the USS Arizona Memorial. He’ll get to hear about the suffering brought to the men who are entombed in the shattered remains of the ship that still rest at the bottom of the harbor.

As the Associated Press reported: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that ‘the purpose of the upcoming visit is to pay respects for the war dead and not to offer an apology.'”

Frankly, I wish he would at least offer an expression of regret.

We’ll learn in due course whether he changes his mind.

President Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan earlier this year. He didn’t apologize, either, for the atomic bomb that President Truman ordered dropped on that city. Then again, I don’t believe an apology — in that instance — was warranted. The Japanese started the fight with the sneak attack on our forces at Pearl Harbor; we finished it with the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and, three days later, on Nagasaki.

Abe’s circumstance, of course, is much different. He represents a government that in an earlier era talked to American diplomats about seeking peace while plotting an act of war.

He need not grovel. He need not beg for forgiveness. Indeed, U.S.-Japan relations are stronger than ever at this moment seven decades after the two nations’ forces fought each other to the death throughout the Pacific Theater of Operations.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/japanese-leader-abe-wont-apologize-at-pearl-harbor/ar-AAl9oyg?li=BBnbfcL

He’ll emphasize the “reconciliation” that has occurred. That’s fine. We all know that it is strong.

The act of war that precipitated the era of good feelings that followed, however, ought to require a statement of contrition from the leader of the government that caused all that senseless carnage in the first place.

Japan’s PM to visit site where ‘day of infamy’ occurred

abe

Shinzo Abe is coming to America.

It’s no ordinary visit for a Japanese prime minister. Oh, no. He’s going to a place burned in the memories of millions of Americans.

Pearl Harbor awaits the visit of the first Japanese head of government since a bright sunny day in December 1941.

On Dec. 7, the United States entered World War II after its naval and air forces were attacked by Japanese bombers and fighter planes. Roughly 3,000 Americans died in that sneak attack. President Roosevelt stood before Congress the next day and declared we had been attacked “yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941, a date which will live … in infamy.”

The president  sought a declaration of war; Congress gave it to him — and the world changed forever.

Prime Minister Abe is coming to Pearl Harbor to meet with President Obama.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/abe-to-make-first-pearl-harbor-visit-by-japan-leader/ar-AAl9vUm?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

This visit very well could mark a remarkable day of atonement for the Japanese government.

Abe said in a statement announcing the Dec. 26-27 visit: “I’d like to make it (meeting with Obama) an opportunity to send a message to the world that we will further strengthen and maintain our alliance towards the future,” he said. “And at the same time, I want to make it an opportunity to signal the value of Japan-US reconciliation.”

The prime minister’s wife, Akie, visited Pearl Harbor earlier this year, touring the USS Arizona Memorial, where she laid flowers and prayed.

There’s been a good bit of that sort of thing over the years as Japanese tourists journey to Pearl Harbor. Aging men — many of whom fought against Americans during the war — have come to Pearl Harbor to pray and to seek forgiveness for their country’s role in initiating the carnage that erupted all across the Pacific Theater after what FDR labeled a “dastardly” act.

President Obama visited Hiroshima earlier this year, speaking to the world about the dangers of nuclear weaponry. He didn’t apologize for President Truman’s decision on Aug. 6, 1945 to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Nor should he have done so.

The war ended a few days later. It’s been argued during the decades since that use of the atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki likely saved many more lives than they took. Still, the debate continues.

Now the focus turns to Prime Minister Abe’s return visit to Pearl Harbor. Does he make amends? Does he issue a formal apology to the United States for the actions of his predecessors?

My own feeling is that an apology is due. Whatever he says, though, I am certain it will be heartfelt and will, as he said, speak to the “reconciliation” that has drawn the United States and Japan closer in the years that came after that horrible “day of infamy.”

It should be a historic and profoundly meaningful visit, depending, of course, on what the prime minister tells the world.

Another hero passes from the scene

arizona

Raymond Haerry has died at the age of 94.

I want to take a few moments to concentrate on someone other than Donald J. Trump and those vulgar remarks about women.

Raymond Haerry served on a battleship during World War II. It was the USS Arizona. Haerry was on board the old ship when Japanese fighter pilots roared in over Honolulu harbor and started bombing the U.S. Navy ships anchored at Pearl Harbor.

Haerry was one of the last survivors of that attack. With his passing, only five men remain. The hero’s son, Raymond Jr., plans take his father’s ashes to the Battleship Arizona Memorial in Honolulu to inter them next to his shipmates.

Haerry’s death is worth noting for a lot of reasons. I’ll cite just a couple of them.

Raymond Jr. said his dad was aboard the ship when the attack commenced. He tried to man a deck gun to fire at the enemy, but the ammo was locked up. As he tried to secure some ammunition, a bomb exploded on the ship. He jumped into the water and swam through flames to the shore, where he was able to return fire at the marauding aircraft.

He represents what’s come to be known as The Greatest Generation, a term made famous by a book of that name written by the legendary broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/one-of-last-uss-arizona-survivors-of-pearl-harbor-attack-dies/ar-BBx8MOq

All told during the nearly four years the United States fought in World War II, we sent 16 million men and women into the fight. They are dying rapidly these days. Only a fraction of those Americans remain among us.

My wife and I — God willing — are likely to outlive the last American veteran of that great conflict.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Arizona memorial. We went there in September 2010 and could see the outline of the ship just below the surface of the water. One’s heart breaks at the sight of the ship — and of knowing that many of the more than 1,100 crew members’ remains are entombed there.

I want to honor Raymond Haerry’s service to our great country. His heroism cannot be denied, just as so many Americans’ served heroically during a dark time in our nation’s history.

They, indeed, comprised our Greatest Generation.

One final trip to Arizona Memorial

Four men ventured to Hawaii this week to pay tribute to more than 1,000 of their shipmates.

They went to the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits proudly in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

They are the last survivors of the crew that was hit on Dec. 7, 1941 by Japanese warplanes. The men who perished on the Arizona are still entombed in the water below the memorial. These four comrades say they won’t go back for future services marking, in President Roosevelt’s words, “the date, which will live in infamy.”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/survivors-gather-remember-pearl-harbor-attack-27427171

But they came this weekend to honor those who died on the terrible day 73 years ago.

They’re old men now. In their 90s. They’re frail, but as an article noted about their return, it’s as if in their minds that time has stood still since that horrific Sunday morning. Of course, time hasn’t stood still for anyone.

***

The coverage of today’s event reminds me of a story told to me by a good friend here in Amarillo about a visit he made recently to the memorial. The shortened version is as follows.

My friend, Roy, watched an elderly gentleman struggle to get off the water taxi that ferries visitors from the island to the Arizona memorial. The gentleman finally got off the craft and shuffled toward the exhibit inside the memorial.

It was then that he noticed the gentleman was of Asian descent. A Coast Guardsman on duty at the time told my friend that the fellow was one of the Japanese pilots who inflicted such grievous damage on the U.S. Pacific Fleet that day, and he was coming back to Hawaii to pray for the souls who died that day and to seek forgiveness.

It’s instructive to hear these stories, if only to remind us that the “enemy” comprised young men who were doing their duty, just as our young men — and women — were doing theirs.

Those pilots are now old men. Their ranks are dwindling. Soon they’ll all be gone.

Let us not forget that emotional pain is universal. It follows no ideology. It’s as real to those who fought on the other side as it to our side.