Team Hickam gathers in remembrance of Dec. 7 attacks

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 15th and 154th Wings, along with family members and honored guests converged at a historic site, Atterbury Circle, on the morning of December 7, to observe The Hickam Field Remembrance Day Ceremony.

This marks the 78th anniversary since a catastrophic attack, carried out by Japanese forces, had struck Hickam Air Field, among five other military installations on Oahu.

The event opened with musical renditions performed by members of the Pacific Air Forces Band. A soloist sang the National Anthem, as the 15th Wing Honor Guard Team slowly raised the U.S. flag to half-mast, followed by Hawaii Pono’i - the official song of the State of Hawaii.

After an invocation by the 15th Wing Chaplains Office, Col. Dann S. Carlson, 154th Wing commander, stepped to the podium to officiate the ceremony. This marked the first time a Hawaii Air National Guardsman led the annual event.

Carlson recognized several of the surviving family members who attended and remain impacted to this day and presented them with history books as a token of remembrance. He also shed light on Air Force heritage, sharing stories about historical landmarks that still bear wounds from the aerial attack.
“As you drive by the [Pacific Air Forces] headquarters building and see the divots in the side of the building,” said Carlson, “that needs to remind us of the resolve that we need to maintain.”

Along with the educational commentary, spectators were provided a symbolic glimpse of Team Hickam’s state-of-the-art aircraft. A formation of four F-22 Raptors soared directly above the flagpole, demonstrating the installation’s heightened state of readiness, which has stemmed from the events of December 7.

Within the grounds of Hickam Field, the attacks claimed the lives of 189 Army Air Corps Airmen and civilians and injured 303 others. Operational capabilities were severely impacted as well, with nearly half of all aircraft being struck or completely destroyed by bombs and bullets.

The site of the ceremony holds historic significance, as bombs landed near the flag pole three times, along with a strafing of machine-gun fire. Somehow, the flagpole managed to see the battle through.

This tragic occasion was deemed ‘a date which will live in infamy,’ by prior President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As leader of a shaken nation, Roosevelt responded with a call to arms on a national scale, declaring a state of war against Axis powers. Ultimately, this unmatched effort of military mite led to the liberation of European and Asian populations who had been oppressed by conquest; and it all started on December 7.

After Carlson delivered his closing remarks, wreath and flower lei presentations were made by individuals representing the various government and civilian organizations, and the honor guard team conducted a three-round volley.

While it has been nearly a lifetime since the historic attack, it wasn’t enough time to prevent tears and prolongated hugs amongst the emotion-filled audience.

The United States has only seen devastation within its territory at this scale only a handful of times. For this reason, Carlson said it’s important for us to be reminded of events such as Dec. 7 and Sept. 11, as they are contributors to our country’s continuous resolve and readiness.