Thursday, February 4, 2016

Battleship Arizona's Marines At War: Making the Ultimate Sacrifice, December 7, 1941


Rating: 4 Stars


I picked this volume up at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii when Grandma and I were there in 2010. To be at the monument, to be in this place, to see the remains of the Arizona is beyond words. It was very humbling and I have included a few photos at the end of the post that I took that day at the site.

Typically I do not care for reading about the military aspects of war. I know it seems kind of an odd statement to make, since what would wars be without military? I do not really find battle plans and weapons descriptions of interest, I care more about the human aspect, the people involved - how society and culture were impacted by the battles. There are exceptions to every rule however and Pearl Harbor is my exception. I realize this was was a (not so) surprise attack and not a battle, but we certainly fought back as best we could in those early morning hours and this is one of the most important events in our nation's history.

I like that this short volume did not just focus on the attack itself but the marines assigned to the Arizona. We get to know them first, which is almost more difficult, as the majority of them did not survive that day. We see photos of them in uniform with their unit, and then recreational-themed photos - such as the sports teams they belonged to on-board, like bowling or basketball teams. This is so important to events like this, to remember the human element of the story and not think of these men who made this sacrifice are purely a number. They were real men, doing what they felt was their duty to their country and they deserve this honor and respect.

Seeing the photos during and after the attack are heartbreaking. You know there are men trapped inside these ships, you know the outcome, and it is devastating. The accounts described within were almost too much and I had to skim some parts - men so burned that their skin fell off at the touch, and such. I did not realize prior to this that recovery efforts were begun to remove the bodies once the dust had settled so to speak. I thought it had always been intended to leave the ship as a grave. 46 bodies were recovered but it was soon realized that it was a better decision to leave these men entombed in the ship and to not disturb the grave site. 

I feel like after having been to Pearl Harbor, I have a much better understanding of what happened and how it happened. It is different seeing something in person, vs just knowing it through photographs. I feel like I know the place much better now and have a much better understanding of why this attack was so successful for the Japanese.

This is one I would highly recommend to those with an interest in Pearl Harbor and World War II, or interest in general in major events in US history.

Here are a few photos from my trip to Hawaii with my grandma in 2010. All photos were taken by and belong to me.

The anchor recovered from the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (Oahu, 2010)

On our way to the USS Arizona Memorial from the dock (Oahu, 2010)

Maps make all the difference when you are actually standing in front of what is being shown on the map (Oahu, 2010)

One of my favorite shots once at the memorial site (Oahu, 2010)

The men of the USS Arizona who lost their lives December 7th, 1941 (Oahu, 2010)

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