Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Footprints of Heroes

Her name in the native tongue is Puu Hawaii Loa. Her story is seldom told anymore, but her history will live forever within the hearts and minds of the Hawaiian Kama`aina as well as the American service members surrounding her. Puu Hawaii Loa is known today as Kansas Tower; a towering mountain on the Windward side of the island of Oahu. KT, as she is called by her Marines, was once the site of American radar towers and on December 7, 1941 it was also the post of several Naval radio operators who died while manning their radar stations. It is situated directly in the center of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, which has been my home for the past three years.

I have ran up her steep slopes. I have crawled into the machine gun nests still carved into her sides. I have many times stood on her summit and visioned the Imperial Japanese zeros coming over the Ko`olau Mountains to begin their strafing runs on what was then NAS, Kaneohe Bay. I pictured the plumes of black smoke billowing from the hangars that housed their aircraft. I envisioned the quiet Sunday morning in paradise being shattered by machinegun fire, bombs and the screams of terror. Standing on top of KT, I felt a closeness with those heroes who stood then, where I was standing now. The pain that I felt that day as I stood upon her peak, paled in comparison to the pride that I had...for I knew that I was standing in the footprints of heroes.


jim b said...

The bond is timeless. The bond that connects old Marines and soldiers to young ones. From my grandfather in WWI with his Smokie the Bear (US Army Campaign Hat) in his white and browned with age photo. My father in his WWII Army dress uniform his hat tilted in the style of the “swing dancer days”, and his smile. Me on the deck of LPD-4 Austin in cotton sateen green USMC utilities. To you.

God Bless and Merry Christmas Marine

Semper Fi

Barb said...

Let the footsteps never be lost, or the memory of all those lost on this historic day. I only hope our backbone as a nation remains as strong as my parents generation.

Patty said...

I have come to your blog via your cousin Tara's blog.

First of all, a huge thanks for serving in our service. I don't know a more inventive way to say it, so I'll use the bare truth... without commitment like yours we'd not have our freedoms and your fellow Americans thank you.

My grandfather was in WW2, in the Pacific theater of ops. He was already in his late 30s with a family, so he was not called to service until 1944. the story as I've understood it was that he felt sure he was going to be called, so he beat them to the punch and joined the U.S. Navy. I'm currently madly in love with a former Marine, so I know all the banter between the Marines and the Navy. Yes, Gramps was a Cracker Jack. But he figured he'd pick the branch where he knew he'd have a bed and a shower at nearly all times.

He was on the USS Lubbock, during the last year and a half of the war. And his job was to operate the amphibious landing crafts that took the boatloads of Marines from the ship to as near the shore of the next maneuver as possible.

He never talked about the war. It was too upsetting for him. He said he'd hang out and play cards with all these great Marine kids on the ship for weeks and then watch half of them get slaughtered before ever making it to shore. But I do know that he was one of the brave men who operated one of those craft up to the shores of Iwo Jima. Our family is incredibly proud of that.

His Navy photo and the flag from the U.S. gov't that draped his casket in 1978 are sitting on the mantle of our fireplace about 10 feet away from me as I type this. And I salute you and Gramps both.

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Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »