Hidden Pearl Harbor
February 4, 2017
Unseen Relics of the War
As you’re going through the Pearl Harbor memorials, soaking in the abundance of history delivered by the numerous exhibits and museums, consider how much of that history has been lost at the bottom of the harbor or swept away into the depths of the Pacific. Though much was lost during the attack, relics of history are scattered throughout Oahu, in places that may not be accessible by the public.
While they may not be accessible, they’re still an important part of the events at Pearl Harbor and should be explored, if even just through words.
The USS Utah
During the course of the attack, three ships of the United States Navy were sunk to the bottom of the harbor. While the USS Oklahoma was raised, she was deemed deemed too damaged for repair and eventually sold for scrap. The USS Arizona remained at the bottom of the harbor and a memorial to her many fallen was built above. This beautiful memorial later became part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The third of the vessels that was sunk, the USS Utah, remains a lost relic of the war, visible only to those able to visit the northwestern shoreline of Ford Island.
After torpedoes damaged the hull of the Utah, she began taking on water, sinking to her eternal resting place on the harbor floor. The rusting vessel is the final grave for 62 servicemen, including the ship’s chief watertender, Peter Tomich.
Currently, the onshore USS Utah Memorial isn’t accessible for public viewing, though the National Park Service aims to open it to visitors in the future.
The Remnants of War
The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred over 75 years ago, but that doesn’t mean everything has healed. Scattered throughout Hickman Field are structures still bearing the marks of war. Bomb craters can be seen embedded in the ground, marking where Japan’s bombers released their payload, while small scars in the concrete remind us of the machine-gun fire that filled the air that day.
John Finn’s Personal Battle
While his fellow sailors were engaged in battle against the Japanese onslaught aboard their vessels, Navy Chief Petty Officer John Finn was waging a war of his own at Kaneohe Bay. After the Naval Air Station at the bay was destroyed, Finn remained behind, armed himself with a .30-caliber machine gun, and fired on the incoming fighters.
For two hours, Finn remained alone until sustaining 20 wounds from incoming shrapnel. The brave sailor survived the ordeal and survived until 2010, but the memory of his stand and the losses at Kaneohe Bay are forever embedded on Oahu as impact craters and markings from machine-gun fire, some of it directed at this one-man army.