All the Gallant Men.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, November 12, 2017

 

 

 

So often history is recorded by academics with a retrospective viewpoint - not so in this book. Donald Stratton was a serving sailor at Pearl Harbor on that day that will "live in infamy". And while those academic records are of value, only first-hand accounts such as "All the Gallant Men" can truly project the emotion of the time. Personally, I not only thank Donald Stratton for his service, but for recalling such a significant point in history from the honest, humble perspective of one who was actually there. Very highly recommended.

Remembering Pearl Harbor by Owen Zupp

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

 

 

In writing ‘Without Precedent’, I have become acutely aware of how the sacrifice of our servicemen can be forgotten if history is not preserved. By contrast, the story of Pearl Harbor is well known. Through all available mediums, the events of December 7th, 1941 have been revisited, analysed and reported in just about every way imaginable. Yet, to visit the site of that ‘day of infamy’ conveys emotions and thoughts that no amount of special effects will ever capture.

 

And on that hallowed soil the story of sacrifice is both respected and preserved through a range of memorials and museums. Of these, without argument, the most emotive is the USS Arizona. Arching across the sunken vessel, the pure white monument bears the names of those lost on that day. Beneath the visitors’ feet lies the grave of so many men and one cannot help but feel the loss and sense the sorrow as oil still slips to the surface after more than 75 years. Some say they are the sailors’ tears and who am I to disagree.

 

 

Elsewhere, one can wander through museums that recount the day through imagery, anecdotes and artefacts. The USS Bowfish permits a first-hand glimpse into the life of a submariner as the mammoth USS Missouri still stands guard over the sunken Arizona. Visitors can walk upon her historic decks. Decks that have seen a life stretching from just beyond World War One to the conflict in Vietnam. Decks that have survived the ferocious impact of a failed Kamikaze attack and hosted the solemnity of the final surrender signing in Tokyo Bay at the close of the Second World War. If only those decks could speak.

 

On Ford Island, the orange and white candy-striped tower stands, just as it did on that fateful day when the nearby hangars were strafed and aircraft were set ablaze. Those hangars still carry the bullet holes, but within their walls the story has survived through the Pacific Aviation Museum. A range of aircraft of friend and foe tell the story, not just of Pearl Harbor, but of the Pacific air war. Massive murals and maps detail the conflict and at every turn another first-hand account is related. Some are of veterans and others are of civilian pilots that were caught aloft that day - including the famed Cornelia Fort. Another famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, has ties to the Hawaiian Island and her story is also wonderfully presented.

 

For children young and old, a ‘simulator experience’ is available, but for those anxious to see more real aircraft, there is another hangar full of exhibits. Warbirds young and old, propeller and jet, across numerous conflicts now stand guard in the safety of this historic building. From time to time a veteran sits quietly - a gentleman who was there that fateful day. His words span the divide between a world at war and grasp the attention of all that pause to listen.

 

Yes, this is all hallowed ground. It calls for one to stop and pause. With eyes closed, imagine the deafening noise, the chaos and the tragedy. And then silently consider the sacrifice with the reverence it deserves. Pearl Harbor is not alone in the world as a site of war’s tragedy and a place to pay tribute, but it is very special in the varied means that it conveys its message. I have been there before and I shall go again. To Pause. To remember.

 

Lest We Forget.

 

 

Read ‘Just Another Flight’ by clicking here.

Pearl Harbor Skies

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pearl Harbor Skies.


By Owen Zupp



Parachute on and strapped in low and tight. The World War Two vintage T-6 is set to take to the skies and so am I. Everything about the aircraft around me breathes an air of safe passage and security, from the girder-like framework that envelopes me to the sizeable North American rudder pedals ahead.

As the throttle is smoothly opened the radial engine lets out a throaty roar and the two propeller blades blur into a single disc. Soon the tail rises and before me lies the black strip of runway and the historic setting of Pearl Harbour. The wheels now leave the ground, the toe brakes are touched and the landing gear folds up cosily into the wings. We are underway.

A wartime hangar passes beneath as we roll left and set course to the north with the famous harbour out to my right. I am flying past places that had been carved into my brain through teachings, textbooks and the occasional Hollywood blockbuster. Places that had burned on the "day of infamy"; December 7th 1941. The day when the Japanese had struck at the heart of the United States Navy and set in motion the Pacific War.

Wheeler Field where the P-40 Warhawks had been ablaze and lesser known coral runways now reclaimed by the vegetation. Runways where a valiant few had launched to battle the might of the Japanese as they made their two waves of attacks on the island of Oahu. The site of the radar station that had first detected the inbound armada of the skies and the beach where a midget submarine had been dragged on shore.

One by one the historic waypoints slide beneath the canary yellow wings of the T-6, set to a backdrop of pristine waters, lush green valleys and jutting igneous ridge lines born of a volcanic past. Such a setting seems to be so at odds with the devastation that took place that December morning over 70 years ago.





Still, as I sit beneath the greenhouse-style canopy with the barest of instrumentation in front of me there is a sense of that time. As I wheel to the left and right I am struck by the reality that these were the same parcels of space through which the Japanese fighters and bombers had passed enroute to their targets.

We slip between two jagged peaks to emerge with Waikiki to the distance on our left and Pearl Harbour straight ahead. Ford Island with its orange and white striped control tower looms large as does the massive battleship Missouri at anchor and watching over the sunken USS Arizona. The Arizona with its more than 1,000 souls still at rest beneath the waves.

I am struck by a mix of solemnity for those lost lives and awareness of how chaotic the skies must have been on that day. For the sky over Pearl Harbour is a relatively small patch of air, yet it must have been brimming with the swirling mass of attacking aircraft. In my mind's eye I can see the USS Nevada making its failed dash for the open seas and almost smell the rising funnels of black smoke. The noise must have been deafening on land, sea and in the air.

But in the present the skies are clear and blue and the only sound is the rhythmic, reliable hum of the T-6's engine. There is hardly a ripple in the air and the magic of flight is at its very best. The here-and-now is in conflict with the history, however the outline of the USS Arizona can still be seen as I pass overhead and prevents any chance of being solely lost in the moment. Nor should I, as this is a site of solemn significance.

The wheels touch down once more and the blurred disc again becomes two stationary propeller blades. I slide the canopy back, with my harness and headset still in place. Leaning my head back all I can see is the blue sky, bordered by the framework of the 1940s cockpit. That same piece of sky, but in such a very different time.

Fly safe.
                                                                 


Pearl Harbour. An Aviation Blog by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Friday, February 22, 2013

 


 



Pearl Harbour.

 

I’m not flying. I’m a passenger.

The wheels are down and if I crane my neck I can see that the leading edge devices are fully extended along the wing outside. The landing into Honolulu is fast approaching, slowed only by the thirty knots of breeze on the nose. Touchdown looms, but my eyes are firmly fixed outside.

There is an inlet, a small water mass, its neck widening as it moves inland from the coast. In the distance the profiles of naval vessels can be seen with their super-structures towering above the lowlands surrounding this harbour. If I look further still I can see right up the valley extending to the north. It is picturesque, caught between two dramatically rising ridge lines.

Everywhere that I cast my eye I see nature’s beauty. In the volcanic peaks, or the moss-green fields that climb up their steep walls. The white beaches, jutting headlands, or the very harbour that is home to these great ships. Even so, this harbour is more significant than it is scenic. It is Pearl Harbour.

The site of the “day of Infamy”, it was in this harbour in December of 1941 that the historic Japanese attack took place. Launched from distant aircraft carriers, the airborne armada set out to catch the American fleet in port and disable America’s capability to combat the Empire’s advance through Asia. The American aircraft carriers were at sea, but in a devastating blow, the battleship fleet was massacred on their moorings.

The Japanese attacked in two waves that quiet Sunday morning. American air superiority was crippled, caught on the ground in neat little rows. By the end, more than 2,000 Americans were dead and over 1,000 were lost in the sinking of a single ship; the USS Arizona.

Now as I cast my eye over this innocent looking landscape, I see much more than the scenery. Books, movies and documentaries have burned this place into the world’s consciousness and mine is no exception. I imagine the plumes of smoke billowing up from the stricken vessels and the Japanese torpedo-bombers skimming low above the water towards their goal. Fighters fill the sky and dive-bombers howl down towards the decks of those ships deeper inside the harbour, obscured from the torpedoes’ path. There is chaos, suffering, heroism and destruction.

The majority of those that would fight and die were mere boys, well less than half my age. The war had arrived with lethal ferocity and no apparent warning on a quiet morning when flags were being raised and church services organised. It was a war that would last for years and reach right around the world for the Americans. It would span the islands of the Pacific and across North Africa and Europe where the allies had been suffering since 1939. It was now most truly a world war.

Today the scene is almost idyllic. Gardens and memorials line the harbour’s foreshore to honour the memory of those lost on that fateful morning. The remains of the USS Arizona and its crewmen still lie just beneath the surface with a dribble of oil still occasionally coming to the surface. Some say these are the tears of the lost sailors below. This is sacred ground and an air of reverence pervades above the surface.

Nearby another great battleship sits at anchor; the USS Missouri. Under construction in New York as the Arizona settled beneath the waves, the Missouri
saw action in World War Two, Korea and as recently as the Persian Gulf before coming home to rest. Upon its flanks a Kamikaze pilot met his end and on her decks the Japanese signed the surrender document in 1945. It now sits at Pearl Harbour as a towering reminder of what has gone before. Along with the Arizona, it provides a pair of ‘book ends’ to the Pacific war. The Arizona lost on that first fateful day, while the Missouri bore final witness to the conflict’s end in Tokyo Bay.

Pearl Harbour now slides by and the grass and sand is replaced by the black asphalt of an airport apron. Row after row of grey American aircraft slide by outside and hangar’s proudly announce their address. Military blends into civil and finally sky into earth. The rigid windsock flashes past and the wheels settle upon the runway. We have arrived.

For me this is a holiday. A short break. I will wander the shores and watch the sun set on Waikiki Beach, rest and recover. Yet, only a few miles away is the scene of one of modern history’s most significant moments. The smoke plumes have now gone, but the memory of the loss is a strong as ever for both this island and a nation. I will pay my respects and contemplate those who have gone before amongst these gentle waves and swaying palms. And maybe I’ll even glimpse those tears floating to the surface. Regardless, for me Pearl Harbour has now left the pages and its reality is now in my heart.

Lest We Forget.

 

Honolulu Ahead. An Aviation Image by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honolulu Ahead.

Having departed Boeing Field, Washington State that morning, Honolulu Airport and Pearl Harbour now looms ahead.

Books

Purchase Owen's Books

Recent Posts

Tags

UAV airliner Kim Jong-un author aerospace WW2 Without Precedent anzac day 50 tales of flight Ansett R-DX Queenstown Bush Pilot flight school Australian Aviation magazine aviation author student pilot how to land an aeroplane Dunkirk speaker Battle of Britain Around Australia flight flying blog ANZAC airliner missing Vietnam War Boeing airplane aviation writer learning to fly airlines aeroplane blog pilot training comfort zone aviation jobs September 11th 787 safer flying choosing a flying school September 11 aviation journalist flying school popular aviation blog solo flight. australia P2902 solo flight australia buying an airplane RAAF owen zupp careers in aviation aviation best seller best aviation blog flying training terrorism jabiru aeroplane MH370 QANTAS A380 Sully the Movie Air France 447 Airbus A320 pilot blog Solo Flight Australia. aviaton author flight training writer's block QANTAS warbird Phillip Zupp learn to fly flying instructor 9/11 Australian Army The Practical Pilot 737 aviation story aircraft aviator airline airbus speaking pilot jobs P-51 Mustang WW1 Jabiru Aircraft most popular aviation blog Sully writer Airbus A380 aviation careers pilot The Pilots Blog Malaysia Airlines aircraft accident www.owenzupp.com pilot suicide 50 More Tales of Flight plane crash how to land an airplane pilot careers Hurricane Korean War airbus A350 XWB landing an airplane aviation book owen zupp author QANTAS Airbus A380 cost of flying solo flight turning forty aviation blog the pilot's blog buying an aeroplane Pilatus PC-21 RAF airshow australian aviation 77 Squadron Down to Earth aviation RAAF PC-21 aviation speaker flight planes Pearl Harbor flying

Archive

© Owen Zupp. All rights Reserved.                                             Admin . Privacy . Disclaimer                                            Website by Shot to Pieces . Powered by Blackroom