(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs
Honorary commanders from 15th Wing and local community leaders had the unique opportunity to burn calories and take in historical sites during a walking tour of Hickam on June 18.
The tour, which was hosted by Jessie Higa, Hickam History Club president, was the first of its kind and took the crowd of 35 on a three-mile trek around joint base. Higa took the group back in time as she walked them through the events that took place on Dec. 7, 1941 and the days that followed.
According to Higa, the tour stops were chosen based upon their significance to the base’s history.
The stops included the Hickam Field Installation Flag Memorial, the Freedom Tower, Hickam Elementary School and the 15th Medical Group as well as many of the sites that were directly hit in the Dec. 7 attacks, such as the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters building, which was formerly the Hickam Field barracks.
“The purpose of this tour was to educate members of the community about the history of Hickam,” said Higa. “We wanted to promote exercise and good health but also education, and we wanted to bridge the gap between the local community and the history that is here on base because it’s not just Air Force history, it’s Hawaiian history here as well.”
Col. Johnny Roscoe, 15th Wing commander, spoke to the group before the tour and thanked them for their continued support and service to Hickam Airmen and encouraged them to value the historical history of the base.
“Every time you walk on this base, you actually step onto history,” he said. “Over the years, Hickam has been continuously filled with people and families who have served this country and all of them had an impact on this base, this country and our Air Force.”
In fact, the walking tour proved to be an eye-opening experience even for tour participants who were not first time visitors of the base.
Nancy Daniels, the spouse of a retired Air Force member, said she frequently visits the base though the tour was the first opportunity she had taken to appreciate its history.
“To be able to take the time to really get to know the history of this place is truly special,” she said. “Time is passing, and it’s important for us to stop and take advantage of these opportunities to remember our history. I’ve seen the buildings and the bullet holes before, so to hear the personal stories about the heroes, survivors and their families was really interesting for me.”
As the tour wrapped up, Higa described hosting her first walking tour ever as exhilarating.
“I felt like I was breathing in the environment and the sites,” she said. “The scenery felt different for me this time. You’re definitely more aware of your surroundings. You pay attention to the birds chirping and the way the flowers smell. You don’t get that same feeling on the trolley tour.
“I felt like we were walking back in time and reliving all the stories that have been told to me. It felt like I was really walking these people through that day, and I really realized how beautiful the base is,” Higa said.