On our final day on Oahu, Mal and I visited the Pacific Historic Parks where the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center are located as well as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine, and Pacific Aviation Museum. Being a history teacher and all, Mal was really looking forward to it.
When Mal and I arrived, we met with Carlton Kramer, Vice President of Marketing, who provided us with two complimentary tickets and then gave us the lay of the land. He pointed out various park highlights and suggested what we must see since we only had a little over 4 hours to visit. Carlton made a comment about needing 8 hours to get the full experience, which I thought was kind of crazy until Mal and I were rushing to see everything we wanted to in 4 hours. There’s a ton to see and do at the the Pacific Historic Parks, so if you ever visit, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to see it all.
Carlton set us up with audio tours and then sent us on our way to explore. We started with the museums and outdoor exhibits that tell the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II.
The audio tour was really great—I highly recommend doing it—and provided all sorts of interesting information, including quotes from primary sources and those who survived the attacks.
While listening to the audio tour, I was on photography duty to snap photos for the blog, of course, but also for Mal’s classes. He teaches about Pearl Harbor and World War II every year, so he’s going to create a slideshow with photos from our visits for his students.
We spent about an hour with the audio tour in the museums before joining the 11:00 tour of the USS Arizona Memorial.
Quick tip: Reserve tickets ahead of time. The tour fills up fast! Mal and I inquired about tickets at 9:45 when we arrived, and there weren’t any available until the 2:00 PM tour. Thankfully, Carlton hooked us up with tickets to the 11:00 AM tour.
After a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor, we took a quick boat ride to the memorial. The tour was approximately 75 minutes, including the film and the boat ride to and from the memorial.
The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941 when Japanese Naval Forces bombed Pearl Harbor.
It was interesting to see the sunken battleship, but it was also quite sad and emotional. The audio tour that we used for the museums also works at the USS Arizona Memorial, so we received even more information while we visited, which made the experience even more contemplative.
As you can see from my photos, there is oil on the surface of the water. We were told approximately 2 quarts of oil are leaked from the USS Arizona every day. The National Park Service has an ongoing program that monitors the submerged battleship, but they don’t plan to remove the leaking oil tank because it would disrupt the burial place of those who died on the USS Arizona.
After spending some time at the USS Arizona Memorial, Mal and I hopped on a bus to the Battleship Missouri Memorial. The various memorials and museums at the Pacific Historic Parks are quite spread out, but it was really easy to get around. Mal and I waited maybe 5 minutes for the bus to and from the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (The same bus also takes you to the Pacific Aviation Museum.)
The Battleship Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States and was the site of the surrender of Japan, which ended World War II.
Touring the inside of the ship was really neat, especially the decks below, which gave us an idea what life at sea was like and showed us where the crew slept, ate, and spent their time.
After exploring the decks below, Mal and I headed to the main deck in search of the place where the signing of the “Instrument of Surrender” occurred, which ended World War II.
It was commemorated with a plaque.
The final stop of our visit was at the USS Bowfin Submarine, a fleet attack submarine that fought in the Pacific during WWII. It was launched on December 7, 1942, exactly one year to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was also known as the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”
Once again, Mal and I did the audio tour, which totally made the visit. It was so interesting learning about the crew and how they lived on the submarine for weeks at a time.
It was definitely close quarters inside of the submarine!
There were 24 torpedoes on board, which were fired 3 at a time because the crew never knew what the target was going to do and wanted to cover their bases.
There were 80 crew members, but only 36 beds, which meant the men slept in shifts. When someone came off their shift, they’d wake up another sailor and take his bed while he worked. They called this “hot bunking.”
The submarine had chefs that cooked 24 hours a day (because of the crew’s sleeping schedule) and the food was generally better than what “surface” sailors ate because the conditions were much more uncomfortable, so the government made up for it with good food.
Mal and I learned all sorts of interesting stuff about the USS Bowfin Submarine—definitely get the audio tour if you visit!
All in all, it was a fabulous visit! I definitely suggest checking out the Pacific Historic Parks if you visit Oahu. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to learn and explore. It offers so much and you don’t want to miss any of it!
Question of the Day
What’s the most interesting historical site/memorial/exhibit you’ve ever visited?