HPU students meet World War II veterans
December 15, 2011
HPU student Marcie Kagawa and World War II veteran Harold Mayo visit the Pacific War Memorial at Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i, Dec. 8. She was among the HPU students who accompanied a group of World War II veterans as they returned to Oahu for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
World War II veterans returning for the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack shared a trip through history with Hawai‘i Pacific University students.
HPU students participated in the recent visit, courtesy of The Greatest Generations Foundation, accompanying the veterans to Wheeler Army Air Field, Schofield Barracks and Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i, Kaneohe Bay on Dec. 8. Each veteran was paired with a student.
For Diplomacy and Military Studies student Nash Roehr, who was partnered with Army Air Corps veteran Frank Mack, it’s an experience he’ll never forget.
Mack was at Hickam Field on Dec. 7, 1941, looking forward to going to the beach. “But he heard an airplane engine that was off. He went to the airfield and looked at the sky and saw a Japanese plane,” Roehr said.
Mack also flew on one of the airplanes that dropped an atomic bomb in Japan.
“He said he and the flight crew were just shaken” to see the loss of life, Roehr said. “To hear him speak … it evokes a real emotion.”
“At the end of the day, we were friends. I never thought it would be that deep,” said Roehr. “I felt honored to be next to a person from ‘the Greatest Generation’.”
HPU student Marcie Kagawa had a similar experience, paired with U.S. Navy veteran Harold Mayo.
“It was wonderful talking to him,” she said. Even though there were painful memories, Mayo was “so open, so sharing.”
Mayo shared his story of being a young sailor at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay (now MCB Hawai‘i), which the Japanese attacked before they struck Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.
“He was at a hangar and heard the planes,” Kagawa said. “They started running and realized what was going on. It was very intense.”
Before meeting Mayo, Kagawa said she wasn’t aware the 1941 attack extended beyond Pearl Harbor. “I didn’t know other places on Oahu lost lives.”
The journalism student said she was grateful for the experience. “I’m extremely thankful because these people won’t be here much longer.”
Roehr said he knew that a chance to learn from those who lived through that era may never come his way again. “This is our last chance to know them.”
Standing in center, Marine Corps Col. Brian P. Annichiarico, commanding officer of Marine Corps Base