As you prepare for your journey back to 1941, to the day when the United States felt a stunned sorrow over the loss of 2,403 American lives, you’ll want to have a basic understanding of where you’re going and what you’re going to see.
In the first part of our “Essentials of Pearl Harbor,” we relayed some basic information about the attack itself, the targets of the Japanese strike force, and one of the most iconic elements of Pearl Harbor today – the USS Arizona Memorial.
Here’s a look at some of the places you’ll see when you visit the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.
During your time at Pearl Harbor, you’ll hear stories of the mighty battleships that were moored along Battleship Row during the attack, but one name you won’t hear mentioned in those accounts is the USS Missouri, and yet she’s a vital part of the exhibits and memorials at Pearl Harbor today.
Launched and commissioned in 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) missed out on most of World War II, but she played a vital role in September of 1945. With the Japanese ready to surrender, a venue was needed for Allied leaders and officials to witness the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
The deck of the USS Missouri, also known as the Mighty Mo, served as that venue. The Missouri continued service on and off until 1992, but it was her part in the 1945 surrender that earned her a spot at Pearl Harbor. The Battleship Missouri is a reminder of the Allied victory, and an interactive exhibit for visitors to explore.
Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
Exactly one year to the day after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Navy launched the USS Bowfin (SS-287), and dubbed her the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.” From 1942 to 1971, the Bowfin served the military honorably, and was rewarded with a spot just next to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
The Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is a tribute to her service, as well as the role that submarine warfare played during World War II. Visitors over the age of 4 can explore the vessel and get a sense of what life was like in the cramped quarters of a World War II–era submarine. The museum showcases items from the Bowfin and other notable submarines of the US Navy.
Pacific Aviation Museum
World War II was one of the first conflicts where air battles and aerial bombings played a major role. The Pacific Aviation Museum brings attention to the importance of aircraft during World War II and beyond.
The museum, which takes up two original hangars on Ford Island, showcases aircraft from World War II and beyond, including an exhibit specifically dedicated to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, the craft responsible for heading the Pearl Harbor attack.
The museum is an incredible resource for future pilots, aviation buffs, and visitors interested in the evolution of air combat through history.
USS Oklahoma Memorial
The sinking of the USS Arizona is forever memorialized in the USS Arizona Memorial, but she wasn’t the only ship lost during the Pearl Harbor attack. The USS Oklahoma (BB-37) was also totally destroyed and capsized on December 7th, 1941, but was found to be in suitable shape to be refloated and sold to a California scrapyard.
429 of her crew were lost during the attack, and though she was ultimately ferried from the harbor, the Oklahoma was lost to the Pacific while in transit to California. To memorialize the lost vessel and her crew, the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island was constructed. Four hundred twenty-nine white markers—symbolizing sailors standing at attention in their dress whites—were erected, each one engraved with the name of a fallen crew member.