Well, last Thursday was a day I will remember for the rest of my life. You always hear a lot about the Hawai’i ohana and we certainly felt welcomed into our new family. The day started early with us meeting Governor Lingle, Rear Admiral McAneny, and Commodore Hankins for a flag ceremony, as we drove into Pearl Harbor. Our families came out in a large Arizona Memorial boat and were able to watch as we raised the Hawaii State flag for the first time. As we proceeded inbound, we were greeted by a fly over of F-15s from the Hawaii Air National Guard. After completing the rest of our transit and arriving pier side, there was a host of performers there to great us including Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club, Halau Hula Olana Ai, Pa Ku’i a Lua, Danny Kaleikini, the PACFLT band, and a blessing performed by Kahuna Pule Ganotise. One of the things I appreciate the most about Hawai’i is the culture, so it was great that the ceremony included that aspect of Hawai’i.
Following the arrival festivities the crew disembarked and all received warm welcomes and leis from the people that were there to greet us. I was able to meet the Governor Linda Lingle, LT Governor James “Duke” Aiona, Jr., and members of the local state legislature on the pier to celebrate our arrival.
At a reception following our arrival, the crew was given several significant gifts including a Hawaiian State Flag that had been flown on the USS ARIZONA, USS MISSOURI, USS BOWFIN, and finally on USS HAWAII. In addition, the Navy League also gave us a check for $5000 to our Morale, Welfare, and Recreation committee.
The Governor also presented us with Welcome to Hawai’i Letters signed by Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, Congressmen Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, and the 25th Hawai’i State Legislature.
As a whole, I could not have been more pleased with the day’s events. Having so many people put in so much effort to make our arrival special has made a lasting impression on the crew. After all of these years we are excited to finally be home, reunited with our families, and look forward to what the future may hold for USS HAWAII.
I would like to thank Governor Lingle, the Navy League, and the staff at Submarine Squadron ONE for their efforts in making Thursday such a special day for the crew of USS HAWAII.
CDR Ed Herrington