Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WWII Tour

Last Friday, the SITAG school kids were supposed to go on a WWII tour around Honiara. In one of God's "just wait, I have something even better in mind" situations, our tour guide forgot. So we rescheduled for today. We began at the US and Japanese memorials where we heard amazing personal stories and learned about battles like "Seahorse" and "Galloping Horse" (named because from overhead, those ridges resemble a seahores and a galloping horse). Our guide played a major role in finding the identity of the "unknown soldier" to whom the US memorial is dedicated.
The fun really began when fourteen kids (ages 6-16) and five moms followed our guide on top of Mt. Austen. He led us to the Japanese observation post where a spy had dug a tunnel more than eight feet into the hillside and lived for several months. Now, most of the tunnel has caved in, but a trench is still there, and the kids could get in the hole that still remains. They loved it!
The observation point was well chosen. We could see Henderson Field, Savo Island, Ironbottom Sound, everything that would have been tactically important to the Japanese. Sarah is standing on the eastern half of the observation site - you can just see Henderson Field to the left.


We drove over to the Gifu to see a small "museum" and to view the site of another battle.

Where else could our kids try on old army helmets...

pretend to drink out of bottles once held by an American sweating in the Solomon Island heat almost 70 years ago...

finger old silverware stamped with "US" on its handle...


gaze upon old pocketwatches that ticked in a homesick soldier's pocket and razors that shaved a weary man's face...

hold a bayonet...

or hunker down in a foxhole dug behind coral?

A small monument stood to commemorate the 89 Japanese who remained after the battle. They chose to end the battle honorably - by charging the strongest point of the American line. Only four survived.


At the end of our tour, the local kids played a game of coconut shells (one of our kids' favorite games). Sarah really wanted to join in, but she couldn't get any of the SITAG kids to go with her. I watched her struggle, then choose to jump into an unfamiliar situation and begin to play the game without an invitation. She had a blast! She was moving so quickly I had a hard time catching a picture of her.

After four hours of walking around in the hot sun, we all piled back into the vans. Our guide very kindly waived the fee for the kids since he had forgotten last week. Wasn't that gracious? What memories we made today! This website provides more information and pictures, or you can always come visit us.

2 comments:

Ann said...

I'm so proud of Sarah!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

What a wonderful day!

The boys would be very envious :D

Julie