Seventy years ago today, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the USA naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged and four sank; many other ships were sank or destroyed. In total, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 were injured.
Now, 10 students from the College of the Ozarks are getting an up close and personal look into this event as they travel to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan, and Hiroshima, Japan, with five World War II veterans. Two of the veterans were stationed in Pearl Harbor when the attack took place.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to escort them to Pearl Harbor and to Japan, said Ciera Carson, one of the students who is on the trip. “I am going to document their stories and pass their stories to children I will teach some day.”
Another student, Bryan Cizek, is also excited to share this experience with the veterans.
“I am interested in history,” he said. “I want to see it through the yes of people who were there. I want to talk to the veterans and know what it was actually like, and how they dealt with things.”
Guy Piper is one of the veterans who is also going on the trip. He was on Ford Island when the attacks took place and saw the Japanese bombed drop torpedoes on the USS Oklahoma.
“I feel I am the one who’s receiving all the benefits,” Piper said of his trip with the students. Piper has already been on one trip like this one with his brother, Parke Piper, and other students from the College of the Ozarks in April. “[The first trip] was the best week in my life.”
Parke’s grandson, Todd Aeschliman, has noticed that the first trip his grandfather went on made the veteran more talkative and excited than he had been in years.
“They know the truth,” Aeschliman said about his grandfather and great-uncle. “They don’t embellish the stories. They want the students to know the truth.”
Both of the brothers are excited to tell their stories to the students.
“I enjoy talking to the youngsters, and I will answer their questions truthfully,” said Guy. “I think we ought to always be on alert when we think about war. War is nothing but hell. [The students] should know young people of their age got maimed, burnt, and killed.”
I think this is a fantastic opportunity for both the students and the veterans who are going on this trip. I think it is also a great reminder for us to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives fighting for our country. Thank you to Guy and Parke Piper, and all of the other men and women who have served our country.