The senior enlisted staff ride was meant to educate the leaders about the critical importance of that day, and honor those that were lost during the attacks.
“We pay homage to the Greatest Generations’ service and sacrifice because this generation’s legacy and courage must never be forgotten. This staff ride is an additional 8th TSC opportunity for reflection following the recent commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu.” said Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Binford, senior enlisted advisor for 8th TSC. “It is an opportunity for us to honor the courage, service and sacrifice of the U.S. military personnel present during the attacks, and recognize the ways that we still honor our fallen today.”
The tour began by visiting the Hilltop House in Lanikai built by Arthur and Anne Powlison. The Powlison family moved there in the 1920s, and today the landmark home is occupied by one of their grandchildren, Cosette Harms, along with her mother Peggy.
“1941, December 7,” Harms said. “My mother was home, her sister was home. The girls were standing out here when all the planes were zooming by in formation with the Japanese emblem on their wings.”
On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an air raid of carrier-borne aircraft against U.S. assets at Pearl Harbor and other military installations on Oahu, including Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, and the Army Air Corps’ Hickam Field, Wheeler Field and Bellows Field. These air raids inflicted serious damage and casualties. The attacks occurred roughly simultaneously with Japanese attacks on U.S. and allied forces on Guam, Wake, Midway and the Philippines, as well as the British possessions of Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya, and the nation of Thailand.
“My grandmother was standing in the window and her eyes met the eyes of the pilot of the closest plane,” Harms continued. “He was so close, it looked like the wing of his plane was going to slice right through the house.”
“One of my Grandmother’s comments was ‘You know, he was somebody else’s son. He was following orders. He wasn’t a bad guy. I looked in his eyes.’ And so, already she had forgiveness and that’s one of the things she held so strongly in her standards throughout the rest of the war and the rest of her life,” Harms said.
Following their visit to the historic home that played a key role in U.S. surveillance following the attacks, the senior enlisted advisors also toured the DPAA headquarters on JBPHH to learn about the efforts required to find the nation’s missing service members and bring them home to their families.
“If you ever go to war and you’re lost during conflict, your country will do everything that it can to recover you or find everything we can to complete some type of closure with your family members,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Swam, the senior enlisted advisor for DPAA. “That’s what we do here. This organization and mission has been going on since after the Vietnam War.”
DPAA’s mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. Many 8th TSC Soldiers have supported DPAA missions across the region and will continue to in the future.
“The critical mission performed by the DPAA team honors our sacred bond to warriors of all generations – that you will not be forgotten and we will never leave a fallen comrade. For senior leaders, as the stewards of our profession, it is important for us to remind our troops and their families, as well as our communities, of this cherished role” said Binford.
Security relationships are vital to the success of the DPAA mission. The U.S. alliances and relationships form the foundation of security and prosperity in the region and foster the safe environment for which to search and return the nation’s missing personnel. The DPAA always works closely with the host nation in order to maintain positive relations and support from its citizens and government officials when investigating and excavating.
Every U.S. service member or civilian who gave their life for the nation is entitled to one certainty: that he or she will not be forgotten. The men and women of the DPAA are committed to honor their sacrifice, and it’s for that reason they deploy anywhere on earth under some of the most austere conditions.
“I knew of it, I read of it, but actually having the opportunity to go to the Hilltop House, explore history and hear it firsthand from three generations, go in and touch the house and see the view is phenomenal,” said Sgt. Maj. Rufus Lewis, the G5 sergeant major for 8th TSC. Lewis said.
“When we visited the DPAA headquarters, it really opened my eyes for me to see how the DPAA team is still searching for remains of lost service members to bring closure to family members back home,” Lewis added.
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