It was early on a beautifully clear Sunday morning. Squadron mate Capt. Ron Cannon and crew had landed their KC-135, jet-powered tanker, at Honolulu International Airport and were taxiing over to Hickam Air Base.
They looked west to see a huge fireball and black smoke pall over Pearl Harbor. Staring at this phenomenon they noticed many aircraft circling and diving toward Pearl. Those prop-driven aircraft looked like Zero's (actually disguised T-6 "Texans") complete with the big red "meatball" insignia of the World War II Japanese Naval Air Force.
"Honolulu Tower, what is going on over at Hickam?" was Ron's plea to the tower operator! "Oh I should have informed you that they are making a movie to re-enact the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor. You should be well clear of any of that traffic." was the reply. Whew!
Ron told me later that watching the action played on his mind. He had to check his Seiko watch calendar to be sure that indeed it was the summer of 1968 and he wasn't experiencing a time warp. He later learned that he had been privileged to catch the filming of the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
Adding to the realism of the "battle" that Ron witnessed that memorable morning was the fact that his crew was returning home from another war, Vietnam. The mission was called Young Tiger and we tanker crews rotated over to the theater to refuel fighters proceeding to and from bombing missions in support of the action in North and South Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.
Tanker crews today are doing the same in support of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Little known to the American public, our tankers fly an average of about 50 missions a day, every day, refueling fighters, bombers, and cargo aircraft.
Today is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the act of aggression that got us into World War II. Let us remember the thousands of men that died in service to our country on that fateful day. Sadly they were never to learn that their sacrifice was key to starting the long struggle that ended in a victory that made this a far better world in which to live.
Tonight, McCook's own Don Schaaf, a world renowned expert on the Battle of Pearl Harbor is presenting a program of that "Day of Infamy" at the Bieroc Café. The host is The Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival and the public is welcome. Don served for a year as a guide for the U.S. National Park Service at the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Don is also the retired web master of a signature Pearl Harbor website.
I'm reminded of the comment supposedly attributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto the planner of the attack on Pearl Harbor. When being informed of the success of the Japanese naval attack that day he supposedly gave thanks and then stated "Alas I fear that we have awakened a sleeping giant!"
The U.S. Transportation Security Agency, TSA, has been tasked with keeping the nation safe from suicide bombers. Those fanatics who board commercial air carriers to carry out attacks similar to what we all watched on 9-11. To date TSA, with the help of the traveling public, has been successful in their quest to keep the traveling public safe. Then just before the Thanksgiving Holiday traveling spike TSA decided to implement "enhanced screening." Those new procedures included X-Ray machines to take naked pictures of people or utterly invasive pat downs for those who refused to reveal all. Many travelers were convinced that TSA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in choosing whom to hassle. White haired grandmothers and young children were included and even nuns in habit were chosen for the lewd pat downs. Yet swarthy complexioned males named Mohamed were passed right through without a second glance. Almost immediately TSA discovered that they had "Awakened a sleeping giant" the American public. Now reportedly the naked picture machines are shuttered and the pat-downs have become more reasonable. Aircrew members are now exempted and of course members of Congress are given a wave through. Lesson: even a bloated bureaucracy can learn to change their ways when they overstep propriety.
A bright spot. Sunday we took a young man that had been a guest in our home to board Lakes Air at the McCook Airport. The local TSA crew, using good common sense, conducted what I thought were appropriate security procedures and let the half dozen people that boarded that flight depart in good spirits. We truly are fortunate to live in area where respectful humanity yet rules.
That is the way I saw it.