By Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs
Ships from around the world visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in summer 2014 to take part in the world’s largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). Twenty-two nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel participated in the exercise, held in and around the Hawaiian Islands and southern California.
Last year’s exercise included units and personnel from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
For the first time, hospital ships participated in RIMPAC. The Chinese hospital ship, Peace Ark, and USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted personnel exchanges, military medicine exchanges and medical evacuation and mass casualty training, along with innovations and demonstrations by Commander, Navy Region Hawaii as Commander of Task Force Energy and Environment.
While RIMPAC is primarily thought of as a naval exercise, the U.S. Air Force also made significant contributions.
The 15th Maintenance Operations Center (MOC), which typically coordinates the C-17 Globemaster IIIs, provided maintenance servicing and job control for most of the aircraft involved in the exercise. The 747th Communications Squadron helped to maintain communication security during RIMPAC.
In October of 2014, the joint base welcomed Gen. Lori Robinson, who took command of Pacific Air Forces from Gen. Hawk Carlisle during a change of command ceremony at JBPHH. Robinson is the first woman to lead a U.S. Air Force Component Major Command.
In November, military service members, civilians and families attended and participated in the annual Kapuaikaula Makahiki held at Hickam Harbor Beach, JBPHH.
The makahiki, known as a “Hawaiian Thanksgiving,” provided an opportunity for military families to learn more about the culture and history of Hawaii.
Many dignitaries visited JBPHH in 2014. They included Lt. Gen. Russell Handy, 11th Air Force commander; Kathryn Miles, former Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP); Vice Adm. Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel (CNP); Commodore Peter Yates, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) general logistics director; and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens.
In July, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus led a groundbreaking for the Navy’s largest solar project in Hawaii at JBPHH.
Less welcome visitors were Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. Iselle, which at one point was a Category 4 hurricane, weakened into a tropical storm before it made landfall on the Big Island on Aug. 8 while Hurricane Julio mostly spared the islands, moving north of Hawaii on Aug. 10. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS), better known as the Air Force Reserve’s Hurricane Hunters, deployed to JBPHH and spent close to a week providing hurricane reconnaissance support as well as helping with rescue efforts and data research. The squadron flew eight missions into Iselle and five into Julio while in Hawaii.
2014 also marked the arrival of new ships to the JBPHH waterfront.
In August, two guided-missile destroyers— USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)— arrived at their new home-port of JBPHH.
John Paul Jones brought updated advanced Aegis capabilities to the surface group and will replace Lake Erie in Hawaii as a rotational ballistic missile defense deployer and testing ship.
Preble arrived from San Diego, replacing USS Reuben James (FFG 57), which was de-commissioned in July 2013. As a Flight 2A destroyer, Preble can embark helicopters to provide more robust response when it deploys.
In November, the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi (SSN 782) arrived at the Pearl Harbor waterfront. Mississippi is the newest submarine permanently assigned to Submarine Squadron 1.
As 2014 drew to an end, JBPHH welcomed survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor who were in Hawaii for ceremonies marking the event.
Several of the survivors, along with their friends and families, participated in a white boat tour of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 4. They learned about the history of the harbor as well as its current role as an active U.S. naval base. The tour concluded with a stop at the USS Arizona Memorial where guests took time to drop flower petals into the memorial well in honor of those who lost their lives during the attack.
On Dec. 7, four of the nine remaining Sailors who were serving aboard USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack—John Anderson, Lauren Bruner, Louis Conter and Donald Stratton—arrived at the USS Arizona Memorial for their final official reunion. While at the memorial, the survivors poured a “final toast” to their shipmates, drinking from original champagne glasses from the USS Arizona. They shared a bottle of wine—a gift from President Gerald Ford to the association presented in 1975.
The “final pour” marked the last gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, bringing a page of Pearl Harbor history to a close.