USS Arizona is a graveyard, not a tourist trap!

The USS Arizona was no tourist attraction for these hard-working Navy divers who saw horrific sights apt to make any of today’s tourists who visit her vomit. Image courtesy US Naval Historical Center.

 

The inspiration for this opinion piece came as a result of watching a video on You Tube last December about a female sailor who drives the tourist boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial.  In one scene, she is posing with a some tourist dude with a grey beard who has got his arm over her shoulder as they smile for his wife’s camera like she were a waitress at some glamorous tourist trap restaurant on Oahu, not someone serving their country.

I could not believe the sight. In fact, it smacked of “whistling past the graveyard” to me. But a graveyard she is as the following extract from the memoir by U.S. Navy diver Edward Raymer demonstrates (and also makes even Stephen King’s novel Christine read like a bedtime story by comparison):

Suddenly, I felt something was wrong.  I tried to suppress the strange feeling that I was not alone.  I reached out to feel my way and touched what seemed to be a large inflated bag floating on the overhead.  As I pushed it away, my bare hand plunged through what felt like a mass of rotted sponge.  I realized with horror that the “bag” was a body without a head.

Gritting my teeth, I shoved the corpse as hard as I could.  As it drifted away, its fleshless fingers raked across my rubberized suit, almost as if the sailor were reaching out to me in a silent cry for help.  *

I wonder if the bones of that sailor rest inside the Arizona to this day or if he wound up in Punchbowl with the small number of poor souls recovered from her wreck.

Regardless, I confess I am disturbed by how ignorant tourists like that dude seem to be of the hell that consumed the ship which now is a memorial.  Wake up and smell the reality, my friends: the Arizona is a graveyard, not a tourist trap!

 

*Edward C. Raymer, Descent Into Darkness: Pearl Harbor, 1941, A Navy Diver’s Memoir, 4.

Axe Grinding About Hiroshima And Nagasaki … From Nigeria?

Image source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h73000/h73655.jpg

 

Something both at once disrespectful and bizarre about the USS Indianapolis landed in my e-mail via my Google news alerts for the ship some time ago.  It was an article from a Nigerian newspaper entitled The West and the Arabs 

( http://www.tribune.com.ng/index.php/mosaic/30384–the-west-and-the-arabs )

You would think this would have nothing to do with WWII.  Wrong, as the following passage proved:

“Saddam Hussein, a reckless warmonger, invaded Kuwait, giving the West a pretext to target him. His troops were expelled from Kuwait and Iraq itself later became the victim of an invasion. The United States claimed Saddam had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.

The United States, the leader of the West, pioneered such weapons and is the only country to have used them; it dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities in 1945. Tens of thousands of people were incinerated. The Japanese must have seen it as poetic justice that the American ship, the cruiser USS Indianapolis, that delivered the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima was sunk by a Japanese submarine on its return journey to the United States from the Tinian airbase in the Pacific. Hundreds of sailors died.”

There is not only an error here (The Indianapolis was on her way to Leyte in the Phillipines after delivering the bomb to Tinian and then stopping at Guam in the Marianas) the writer is also grinding an axe against her and the atomic bombings all in the name of carping about the Anglo-Iraqi wars, which in my opinion is unjust, and the writer should be ashamed of, especially since he does not care to accept the fact that by 1945 the Pacific theater of operations had become a blood bath in which the Japanese were the first to unviel a devestating weapon of mass destruction in the form of the Kamikaze suicide attack.  A tactic all of Japan was preparing to do from land, sea, and air when “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” finally shocked Emperor Hirohito into ordering a surrender.  If the Japanese did indeed feel poetic justice in the Indianapolis being sunk (and Dan Kurzman in Fatal Voyage claims the sub commander who sank her did feel good about it when he learned what her mission had been) it would still not wash away the fact that their war lords upped the ante with a massively destructive weapon first, as the heavy losses suffered by, say, the crew of the USS Bunker Hill when rammed  by two Kamikazes off Okinawa on May 11th, 1945 attest. *

Image source: http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/17.htm

Say what you want about the US in the Middle East, but don’t you dare try to compare apples to oranges from totally different events in our history, my friend.  And don’t you go dragging the USS Indianapolis and her officers and men through the mud by saying their agony was “poetic justice” for Hiroshima!  How would you like it if I trashed heroes of Nigeria on this blog in such a manner?

 

* The ship’s company of the Bunker Hill lost 346 killed, 264 wounded, and 43 missing.  The carrier herself was crippled and had to limp back to the Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.