By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, 15th Wing Public Affairs
Twelve survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor and Hickam visited Hickam Elementary School Dec. 4 to commemorate the anniversary of the event and speak with the students about their experiences while stationed in Hawaii 73 years ago.
“We want to thank you for visiting our school and for all you have done for us,” said Rory Vierra, Hickam Elementary School principal.
The survivors traveled here from the continental U.S. as part of a trip organized by the Greatest Generation Foundation, a non-profit international organization dedicated to promoting recognition and respect for war veterans of past and current conflicts.
“I think it’s great that they’re here because it gives the students a historical context of what occurred here,” Vierra said. “It’s a living memorial here, so it’s important for [the students] to know the history of their community.” Students lined the entrance of the school and greeted the survivors, many of whom were visibly emotional to see the support of the students. Twelve students were selected as escorts for the guests and accompanied them to individual classrooms where they shared their personal stories.
One of the survivors, Robert Blum, was the only member of the group assigned to Hickam Airfield at the time of the attacks. He shared his story with Lizbeth Rabaino’s fourth grade class.
“We were scared, but we were also angry so we kicked into gear and did what we had to do to survive,” Blum said as he described the beginning of the attack.
Blum was a technical school aircraft maintenance instructor here in 1941 and was wounded in the attack by a bomb detonation.
The survivors will also have an opportunity to visit other areas of the base to speak with service members and share their stories.