Story and photos by
Sgt. Daniel K. Johnson
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — “This is a very special and historic moment,” said Col. Stephen Dawson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
“Seventy-five years ago, Sunday, Dec. 7th, 1941 – at almost this exact time of day, on the airfield behind me – this hanger and others, came under the attack of the Japanese Empire. Today, we want to remember that morning and all of the heroes of that day,” he continued.
That remembrance ceremony was held, here, on Dec. 5th, in one of the hangers attacked on Dec. 7th, 1941. Soldiers, family members, civilian friends, veterans and members of the Greatest Generation Foundation gathered to reflect on the attack that happened, here, 75 years ago.
“We are thankful that we are able to be here as a group honoring that particular day,” said Stuart Hedley, a 95-year-old veteran of World War II who was stationed on the USS West Virginia during the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
The Greatest Generation Foundation is dedicated to helping veterans of World War II return to the battlefields they fought on to help enable closure of their war experiences while at the same time educating youth about key military events and their relevance.
“These veterans include one gentleman that parachuted into Normandy, France, on D-Day, another who hit the beach at Omaha,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander, 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii. “Two of you fought in the battle of the bulge, one went on to support the Nuremberg trials, one of you was a Navajo code talker and others served in the Pacific, England and France. You are a remarkable group, and I am proud to be in front of you today.”
Wheeler Army Airfield was one of the first places attacked on that historic day. The Japanese Empire focused their initial effort on disabling U.S. air assets to ensure air superiority.
“For those of you who were here this day, this is truly hallowed ground. Wheeler was one of the very first places to be hit in a synchronized aerial attack on the military airfields at Bellows, Kaneohe Bay, Ewa, Hickam and Ford Island,” said Cavoli.
During the ceremony, Veterans of Foreign War Posts 352, 1572 and 12138; along with Thomas Pesto, a World War II veteran; and Gary Winnick, The Greatest Generation Foundation; as well as Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Brzak, 25th ID; and Command Sgt. Maj. Lisa Piette-Edwards, USAG-HI, laid wreaths in remembrance of this historic attack.
The attacks on Dec. 7th 1941, were one of the most influential moments in U.S. history, forever changing the lives of millions. The sacrifice of the brave men and women of that war will never be forgotten.
“To our heroes that are here with us this morning,” said Dawson, “the veterans of World War II, the one and only Greatest Generation, thank you for answering the call when your national called. We will forever be grateful.”