Remember Pearl Harbor – Tour & Commemorative Giveaway – Day 1

ph-collage-1This week marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States into World War II. Last month I was privileged to visit Pearl Harbor with my husband. This week I’m sharing photographs from our visit, plus some historical background. In addition, I’m giving away some commemorative items from Pearl Harbor – the official 75th anniversary commemorative ornament, Pearl Harbor: The Way It Was by Scott C.S. Stone, and a pen.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on any of the three posts or send me an email at sarah [at] sarahsundin [dot] com – you have three chances to win. The giveaway ends Sunday, December 11, 2016, and I’ll announce the winner here on my blog on Monday, December 12, 2016.

I hope these posts help you reflect on the gravity of the attack and the sacrifice of the 2459 servicemen and civilians who died that day. Let’s never forget the lessons of that day.

Sarah Sundin at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 Nov 2016 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)

Sarah Sundin at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 Nov 2016 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)



Today I’ll share pictures from the Pacific Aviation Museum. On Wednesday, I’ll share from the USS Arizona Memorial, and on Friday about the submarine USS Bowfin and the battleship USS Missouri, where the Japanese signed the surrender documents officially ending World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.

Aviation during the Pearl Harbor Attack

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is most known for its disastrous effect on the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet. However, aviation played an important role.

The attack itself, of course, was carried out by aircraft – 353 Japanese carrier-based fighters and bombers in two waves. A handful of American planes were able to take off and defend Pearl Harbor, downing a few Japanese planes. In all, 29 Japanese planes were lost. But 188 American planes were lost, most of them destroyed on the ground.

On December 6, 1941, twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses left Hamilton Field, north of San Francisco, bound for the Philippines, via Hickam Field at Pearl Harbor. My great-uncle, Roderick M. Stewart, served as a second lieutenant on one of the crews. Weighted down by gasoline for the thirteen-hour flight, they were unable to carry guns or ammunition. But why would they need them? The United States was at peace.

The next morning, the B-17s arrived in the middle of the Japanese attack. The bombers dodged both enemy bullets and friendly antiaircraft shells and landed where they could on fields cratered by bombs. Eight landed at Hickam Field, two at Haleiwa Field, one at Bellows Field, and one put down on Kahuku Golf Course. One of the planes was destroyed, and three were damaged. Six men were wounded, and one man was killed. My great-uncle went on to fly combat tours from Australia and England.

In an interesting historical side note, the brand-new Opana Radar Station detected the Japanese planes coming in for the attack, but the officer in charge, who had started duty that very morning, dismissed the findings, certain the radar blips depicted the expected B-17s. We’ll never know if an extra half hour of preparation could have prevented some of the day’s tragedy.

The Pacific Aviation Museum

One of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites is the excellent Pacific Aviation Museum. Located in Hangar 37 on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, this museum chronicles the role of aviation in the attack on Pearl Harbor and throughout World War II in the Pacific. Nicely done with aircraft in dioramas and plenty of explanatory material, this museum is well worth a visit! The buildings date from the WWII-era and bear the scars of the attack. Please note the bullet holes from the attack in the windows of Hangar 79!

In the main building, Hangar 37, you first see exhibits about the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, including a Japanese A6M Zero fighter and a US P-40 Warhawk fighter. The P-40s were responsible for downing several Japanese aircraft.

The museum follows the war in the Pacific. An exhibit commemorates the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo by carrier-based B-25 Mitchell medium bombers – which were not meant to be carrier aircraft – led by the famous Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Other exhibits tell of the Battle of Midway (the turning point of the battle in the Pacific) and the “Cactus Air Force” which fought valiantly on Guadalcanal.

Hangar 79 is a treat. Full of historic aircraft, not just from World War II, it also contains a restoration shop. One of the aircraft undergoing restoration is the Swamp Ghost. This B-17 Flying Fortress served with the US 7th Bombardment Group based in Townsville, Australia – my great-uncle’s group! After a raid on Rabaul, New Britain on February 23, 1942, the plane was damaged by enemy fighters and made a forced landing in a swamp on New Guinea. The crew made an astounding six-week trek through the jungle to safety. The B-17 lay in that swamp until rescued by aviation enthusiasts in 2006. I’m privileged to have read a manuscript about the Swamp Ghost written by one of my great-uncle’s colleagues, Glen Spieth, written in 1986 when they were hoping to recover this plane. I know Uncle Rod and the men of the 7th BG would be thrilled to see this plane being so lovingly restored as they wanted. It was an honor for me to see such an amazing piece of history.

Thank you for joining me on my tour! And please visit the other posts – you can enter the giveaway on each of the three posts for three chances at winning:

Day 2: The US Navy’s Role at Pearl Harbor – Pictures from the USS Arizona Memorial

Day 3: From Tragedy to Triumph – Pictures from the USS Bowfin and the USS Missouri


88 Responses to “Remember Pearl Harbor – Tour & Commemorative Giveaway – Day 1”

  1. Gabrielle

    This is so cool! I would love to visit Pearl Harbor someday! I’m doing my history thesis on Pearl Harbor.

  2. Tori

    I visited Hawaii in 2012. Pearl Harbor was one of my top 3 favorite places we visited. The reverence felt there was amazing. There was also a complete rainbow across the harbor that morning. It was beautiful.

  3. Kaylin Bruce

    My husband would love to visit! So neat!

  4. Tawny

    I got goosebumps! This is so cool! Thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

  5. Wendy Brz

    We were awed by Pearl Harbor, and grateful for the chance to pay our respects there. Thanks for sharing these facts and photos!

  6. Kendra D

    This is so fantastic, pearl harbour is what started my intrigue with world war 2. A crummy film knowing what I know now but I’ll always love it for sparking the interest (and also contributing the name Evelyn to my 6 month old daughter!) I dream of the day I can finally get to see where paradise met destruction, pay tribute to all the lost men, and marvel at the efforts in which our countries were able to rally in order to defeat evil.

  7. Melissa Marsh

    Visiting Pearl Harbor is a must for me! I hope I can make it there someday. Thank you for sharing your photos and your great-uncle’s story.
    Side note: I have a cousin who works at the Pacific Aviation Museum. 🙂

  8. Dana

    Thanks for sharing these pictures. My family did not visit the aviation museum when we were at Pearl Harbor years ago. But visiting the memorial is something I will never forget!

  9. Barbara Tobey

    I responded to teacher’s question of where is Pearl Harbor by saying New York. I was young. I did visit the site several years ago.

  10. Kerry Darnell

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! I love the items you’re giving away! Lol ?


    I love the history of WW 2, and the men and women who fought for our free country. I also had relatives in WW 2 and my son just finished 20 years in the Navy

  12. Debrah Nash

    What an honor for you to visit Pearl Harbor. My son who is a veteran was stationed at Schofield Barracks in 2001. We were unable to visit he and our daughter-in-law while they were stationed there. My father-in-law was a Sea Bee who was stationed in the Philippines during WWII and my love for history has been the reason I have loved your books. What an era and time in our nation!!

  13. Diane French

    Our high school band has the honor to play with other bands this week in Hawaii for the commemorative celebration. Some of the students also did research and interviews on some of the guests that will be there, and published a book that will be sold at the high school as a fundraiser. I wish I could’ve been a sponsor on this trip!!

  14. Eleri Grace

    Fantastic blog post! I’d love to hear more about your great uncle who served in the Pacific and ETO! The Swamp Ghost story is intriguing – in research for my current novel, I know crews preferred to ditch in the water (even with circling sharks visible!) rather than make any attempt at surviving & escaping from the jungle. Does the manuscript detail their jungle trek? Any chance it will be published?

  15. Jennifer Ruch

    I love so the history you post. Thanks from a huge history geek!

  16. Rachel Dixon

    I was honored to visit Pearl Harbor a few years ago. Thank you for the wonderful post and giveaway!

  17. Carol Edwards

    I have visited Pearl Harbor, but the museum looks like a neat visit too.

  18. Linda Solka

    Iam enjoying your posts of Pearl Harbor. My dad was at Normandy my Uncle in the Pacific. Our Greatest Generation is leaving us rapidly. It is wonderful to have ppl like you dedicated to sharing your knowledge and helping to preserve history.

  19. Cathy

    Thank you for the wonderful blog tribute to Pearl Harbor. I do a great deal of genealogy research and had family in B-17’s and B-26’s, but in the European Theater. My husband and I visited Pearl Hatbor, but it was before the USS Missouri was added. I have really enjoyed your pictures from the trip.

    • Cathy

      Oops. I shouldn’t try to type on my smartphone. Pearl Harbor !!

  20. Lois Hudson

    I was a little girl when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I remember hearing the announcement on the radio and wondering if it was anywhere near Missouri where I lived at the time. I love the history of this era because I lived it — can’t believe it was really THAT long ago.

  21. Kassidy

    The bullet hole picture is crazy! Thanks for sharing !!

  22. Tami

    My boys and I would love to visit Pearl Harbor one day.

  23. Dawn

    Wow! What fantastic research for your novels, and a great vacation besides. Amazing!

  24. Teresa Burgess

    I love Hawaii and have visited the Arizona memorial but didn’t know about the airplane museum. Another reason to visit!

  25. Lisa B

    Wow. A visit to Pearl Harbor is something I have always wanted to do. Hopefully someday. I had never seen photos of the aviation museum- thank you for sharing them and your great-uncle’s story. My husband’s grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. He was out at sea and returned to the devastation. I cannot imagine. Thank you, also, for the giveaway. Being a former American history teacher and wife of a retired soldier, those items would be very meaningful to us.

  26. Carolyn R.

    Thank you for sharing your Pearl Harbor photos with us. I really enjoy reading all of your books. Have a wonderful holiday season.

  27. Cheryl H.

    I’ve visited Pearl Harbor, and what an experience. My nephew is currently stationed there at Hickam AFB. These are great photos!!

  28. Beth S Smith

    Love the pictures. I am fascinated with World War II and I hope that my husband and I may someday get the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor. It has always been something that I would love to do. So glad that you guys got to go.

  29. Michele Hayes

    Thank you for sharing your visit to the Pacific Aviation Museum. I love the pictures and hope to make it there some day.

  30. Susan Therio

    Thanks for sharing. PBS also has some wonderful documentaries this month for the anniversary. We must not ever forget……

  31. Kristin Cooper

    I have been privileged to visit Pearl Harbor and the museum three times over the past 30 years. It is both solemn and wondrous. I am still in awe of our “Greatest Generation”. Thank you for the wonderful pictures!

  32. Terri Wangard

    I first visited Pearl Harbor in 1994. The launch took us out to the memorial, but because it was windy and the water was choppy, we couldn’t board the memorial. I was so disappointed. That was one of the highlights of my trip.
    I returned in 1998, and that time I boarded. Realizing what was below our feet was haunting.

  33. Lori

    Your depth of research shows in your books! I appreciate the time you take to actually visit places you will write about.

  34. Michele

    I am amazed at the amount of research you do for your books. I am a history buff, and I have learned so much from your work. Thank you for sharing your stories with us!

  35. Michelle

    You know what first sparked my interest in Pearl Harbor? An Adventures in Odyssey episode! It was really well done. 🙂

  36. Sierra

    I hope to visit Pearl Harbor in the next couple years.

  37. Connie Brown

    I would like to go see the museum and visit the sites of the attack. Maybe someday. My dad served at Pearl after the attack and on a sub-tender ask well as in Guam after it was taken. He didn’t talk much about his service as many of that generation didn’t. My grandfather served on the other side of the war. He was in the D-Day attack. He really didn’t talk much about it. Two men I lived and respected very much.

  38. Julie

    Pearl Harbor was always exciting to learn about for me. I remember presenting on it numerous times. One day I’d love to visit that site.

  39. Shelia Hall

    thanks for sharing your photos! Have always wanted to visit it but can’t afford it yet

  40. Julie Goltermann

    Thanks for the virtual tour, Sarah! I would love to visit Pearl Harbor someday, but am glad for your visit and sharing with us. The connection to your uncle makes it extra special!

  41. Linda B

    Great photos, Sarah! This is the closest I will probably get to seeing the site. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Rosalie Fagan

    Dear Sarah, I continue to read your books, & am trying to wait patiently
    for the next one to come out. I am very interested in the WWII era, and you have taught me a lot about it. I was born in 1940, so I don’t remember
    anything about it. Thank you again…………Rosalie Fagan~

  43. Rosalie Fagan

    Thanks for writing such good books! I have never been to Pearl Harbor
    so I have to read about it in your books.

  44. Marty Crosson

    So interesting. I remember reading recently about the new radar station detecting the incoming aircraft — apparently it was being manned by someone who was still training, I think.

  45. Stephanie Allen

    This is so awesome. I have always loved studying the World War II era, and this is just amazing. I totally love your books. Thanks for this fantastic giveaway.

  46. Melissa Alexander

    A group of us(10) went to Hawaii several years ago & enjoyed the experience very much; Pearl Harbor was our favorite. My father served during WWII & was even stationed in Hawaii for a time, but he wasn’t there when the attack happened. I still felt close to my deceased father because he had lived there for a time while history was in the making. I thank the Lord that he returned or I wouldn’t be here today. So proud of the “Greatest Generation” for their service and dedication to our country!!! Our young people need to learn from their example.

  47. Gail Hollingsworth

    My 93 yr old father in law served in the navy during WWII. He has just in the last year or so told us about some of the things he saw.
    I heard on the news today from the only living survivor from Pearl Harbor. Interesting interview.

  48. Sara Hunt

    Thank you for your posts. May we never forget the sacrifices our parents and grandparents made 75 years ago.

  49. apple blossom

    oh, lovely post glad you shared the ornament giveaway is a lovely addition. thanks for the chance to enter

  50. Carla Kersey

    Wow! So interesting. Would love to be able to go there some day! Thanks for a chance to win! I know my brother would love the book!

  51. Cindy Webster

    Thank you for sharing this. We need to remember our history and all that happened on this day. I would love to visit it someday. I so enjoyed your pictures.

  52. Colleen H.

    I would love to visit Pearl Harbor some day. We went to Hawaii years ago, but didn’t have time to visit the memorial. Maybe someday we’ll make it back.
    Thank you for the giveaway. The book looks like it would be awesome!

  53. Stella Gustafson

    My husband and I was at Hickam AFB and the unit my husband worked in still had the hanges from WWII and the bullet holes to this day can still be seen. It is said that the oil that is still rising from the battle ship Arizona is the sailors tears. My husband was re enlisted on the memorial.

  54. Becky I.

    My Aunt & Uncle visited Hawaii in the 1970’s & loved it there. But the thing that stood out during their entire visit was going to the Pearl Harbor & Arizona memorial. My uncle had served in WWII, as well as, my own father (who lost 2 friends at Pearl on Dec. 7) & having that memorial meant a great deal to them.

    Thank you for doing your books based in WWII & your blog. Not only are they enjoyable to read, you also keep alive what that time was all about. As Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”


  55. Edward Arrington

    Great pictures and interesting article. My father was inducted into the Army almost eight months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served in the European Theater during the war and arrived back in the US just over a month after the official end of World War II. It was a terrible war and we owe a tremendous debt to all of the men and women who fought and struggled to bring about peace. grandaddya[at]Comcast[dot]net

  56. Betti

    I hope to visit Pearl Harbor someday. I have appreciated all the wonderful historical information in your books, Sarah. History has become so much more interesting as the years go by. Thanks for the giveaway.

  57. Dianne Casey

    Your trip to Pearl Harbor must have been amazing. I would love to visit

    • Dianne Casey

      I would love to visit Pearl Harbor, it must have been an inspiring sight. A great tribute to all of our brave service members and a day that will never be forgotten. Love reading about the great history of the U.S. There is always something new to learn by reading about historical events.

  58. Yaritza Santana

    Wow thanks so much for sharing these pictures and history.

  59. Kim Wallace

    I enjoyed reading through your info and seeing pics. Would love to visit Pearl Harbor one day.

  60. Jocelyn

    Loved our visit to Pearl 2 years ago. I’ve been blessed to meet 7 Pearl Harbor survivors and many of their families due to my job. <3

  61. Sharon A

    Thank you for all that you have posted daily reminding us of what was happening in the world at that time. You have done a fabulous job!!

  62. Natalie Flores

    Thank you for sharing your pictures! I was lucky enough to visit Oahu this summer. My dad is retired Air Force, so we got to visit and stay at the military bases and the Hale Koa. Walking around Ford Island was such a moving experience, especially seeing the USS Utah memorial. It was empty and quiet except for the sound of the waves. The whole trip was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

  63. Kassy Paris

    I would love to visit Pearl Harbor and the museums. My father served as a waist gunner on a B-17 during WWII. He flew in missions over Germany until he was wounded by flack and grounded. Requesting to stay instead of being sent home since his injuries healed but left him with a right eyelid that would not open or close on its own, he was transferred to the mechanics crew and finished the war in that capacity. I grew up listening to his stories about his service time. I developed a love of the time period and a great love for this country of ours.

  64. Lynne M Feuerstein

    Thank you for this post,Sarah. It’s so moving just looking at these pictures I can only imagine what it’s like in person. (Brings tears to my eyes just thinking of what they went through that day) I hope everyone (especially the younger generation) can see this museum or at least these pictures.I’m always afraid that as time goes on people will forget. Thank you so much for your efforts to prevent this.

  65. Shondra Brown

    Thank you for sharing! Although highly unlikely, I would love to someday visit the memorial in Hawaii.

  66. Sheri

    Thank you for doing this, Sarah! As much as my family and I would love to visit Pearl Harbor, I have doubts we’ll ever make it there. As with many people, I have family members who served in WWII, and it is an exciting experience when you get to see in person a part of what they did. So much emotion is stirred when we see and imagine what the people going through this period went through. It is so important that we remember the sacrifices so many have made for this country.

  67. Kate

    Thank you Sarah for your post. So much information

  68. Maryann Hanley

    Really enjoy all of your WWII novels.

  69. Allyson Wieland

    I was especially interested in the story of your great-uncle. My husband’s uncle also flew in the Pacific during WWII. The plane he piloted was shot down 2 miles off the coast of Cape Boram New Guinea on Nov. 27, 1943. No survivors. Because the site is documented and relatively close to shore, we’ve toyed with the idea of looking for the wreckage, but who knows what the currents have done in the last 73 years. We have found the declassified log books of his unit, which are interesting to read.

  70. Lucy Reynolds

    Would love to visit. Thank you for sharing.

  71. Kathy West

    I am enjoying the Pearl Harbor history, and I shared it with family members. My father was on the heavy cruiser Louisville, stationed at Pearl but out of port when the attack occurred. An uncle was there at the time of the attack and also survived. Dad and Uncle attended Pearl Harbor Survivor meetings together for years, into their eighties. Thank you for all your postings about WW2 because they help me learn more about that time and place, and also because they honor all who served.

  72. Rose Blackard

    Thank you for sharing your pictues. & the history too. Its really awesome that you could be there this week.

  73. Stacey Dale

    I’ve never been there, but I get choked up every time I see pictures. One day, I’d love to go and pay my respects.

  74. Caryl Kane

    Sarah, thank you so much for helping us to remember the sacrifice that was made 75 years ago. The history is compelling and the photos are incredible. May we never forget the sacrifice that was made by those who paid the ultimate price.

  75. Pamela Fallin

    Military brat! Military family throughout. My husband and son are history nuts so over the 40 years together I’ve learned a lot. My brother in law birthday is a Dec. 7 th. I enjoy your books.

  76. Diane Wallace

    Thank you for sharing your photos and info on Pearl Harbor. Any time I read about Pearl Harbor or see anything on it, I get goosebumps. I just can’t imagine what it was like for those guys to experience it??

  77. Xochi E. Dixon

    Sarah, your blog makes history come alive. The facts and photos you share make me want to read more of your novels. I feel like I can lose myself in your fictionalized world, because I trust you created your characters’ world as close to reality as possible. This also makes it easier to connect with your characters. Thanks for all your hard work behind the scenes, which makes the scenes in your novel feel authentic. Keep up the great work!

  78. Joye I

    I had the privilege to visit this site. It should be on everyone’s bucket list. Thanks for the photos and brief news about the place.

  79. Joanna Hiemstra

    I only have a general knowledge of the events of Pearl Harbour, mainly because I am Canadian and have studied the Canadian involvement in WW2 more extensively. But your posts have convinced me to visit this place that had such a large impact on US history and the history of WW2. I would love to read a novel series based on the US involvement in the Pacific.
    Thank you.