PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Hawaii returned to Pearl Harbor for a white boat tour on Dec. 4. The survivors, along with their friends and families, learned about the history of the harbor as well as its current role as an active U.S. naval base.
Several active-duty service members were also on the tour that was hosted by Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Jim Neuman, Navy Region Hawaii historian, provided the narration.
"The harbor tours are always special. They provide an opportunity to teach the public and our military personnel about the history of Pearl Harbor and Hickam," said Neuman. "The Navy has been at Pearl Harbor for over 100 years. It is also important to point out and explain many of the operational aspects of the base today, what are we doing right now. The base is just as important today as it was 73 years ago in 1941."
The tour boat departed from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and headed toward the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Along the way, Neuman pointed out and discussed areas of interest such as the wreckage of the USS Utah near Ford Island, the deactivated Navy ships moored in Middle Loch, Hospital Point, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and other sites. Along the way, survivors asked questions and talked about their own experiences.
"The tours with the Pearl Harbor survivors and other World War II vets are especially meaningful because it is an opportunity to hear from the men who were here when the attack took place," said Neuman. "It is great to see the survivors interacting with the younger service members today because they become an inspiration for the next generation. Most of the survivors that are still coming were only 18 or 19 years old in 1941. I think our younger folks gain a lot of perspective and insight from talking to the older guys who experienced a lot of growing up at that time."
The tour concluded with a stop at the USS Arizona Memorial. Even the most gregarious and talkative members of the tour group become quiet and reflective. Some of the survivors shed tears.
Before departing the memorial, guests took time to drop flower petals into the memorial well in honor of those who lost their lives on during the attack. The boat then returned to shore.
As they disembarked, the survivors were in good spirits, happily chatting with young service members and expressing how much they enjoyed the tour.
"It was great," said retired Chief Michael "Mickey" Ganitch, who was serving aboard the USS Pennsylvania on Dec. 7, 1941. "It brought back memories, some good, and some not so good."
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