Monday, July 6, 2015


Pearl Harbor and Pacific Aviation Museum

For many Americans, the words Pearl Harbor call to mind black-and-white images of U.S. Navy battleships on fire, listing grotesquely in a chaotic churn of billowing, black smoke. The photos and film footage of those military vessels burning on the water are at least partly responsible for the 1.4 million Oahu travelers who pay their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial annually.

But there were, of course, other devastating elements of the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that don't receive as much attention today from Hawaii visitors, including the bombing that destroyed Hangar 6 on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. 

"Before the Arizona blew up, these hangars were bombed," said Kenneth DeHoff, the executive director of the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. "The Missouri hadn't even been built. The Bowfin [submarine] was a year later, [and] this is where the war in the Pacific began." 

"There are 600 aviation museums in the U.S., and some people say they don't need to see another one," he said. "But this is the only one that allows you to walk on hallowed ground, where Americans gave up their lives, where airplanes were destroyed, where ships were bombed and sank." 

While accumulating the growing fleet of historical aircraft, the museum has also worked to preserve several scars still remaining from the Dec. 7 attack. 

"What people don't know is this is really America's aviation battlefield," DeHoff said. "There are still bullet holes in the windows we've got in Hangar 79. There are still bomb craters here that we're trying to protect and keep the Navy from asphalting over. There are more bullet holes in the concrete." 

The nonprofit Pacific Aviation Museum recently raised $5 million for the renovation of the airfield's control tower, which has been featured in films such as 1970's "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and 2001's "Pearl Harbor."

"These three hangars had men working in them on that Dec. 7 morning at 7:55," DeHoff said. "They took cover, and then they manned guns, and they fought back." 

Admission to the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is $25 for adults and $12 for ages 4 to 12.

Pacific Aviation Museum

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