Spring break in Hawaii could have been a week of sun and surf for a group of Apache Junction High School students.
Instead, it was a lesson in history.
Eleven Nava l Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets and two leaders from the school raised an American flag at Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial last week during a spring break trip that included visits to five Hawaii military bases in four days.
"I was surprised at how surreal it was at the memorial. It was like walking on history," said junior Jared Fish, 17. "When you read this stuff in a history book or see it on TV, it’s just not the same."
Senior Cody Kolojay, 17, said several images now stick with him: Bullet holes that are still visible in many of the Pearl Harbor buildings, the slow oil leak from the USS Arizona, the list of names of the 1,177 crewmen who died Dec. 7, 1941.
"To actually be able to see names upon names is very moving," he said. "I’ve never seen anything like that memorial before."
The group also visited the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay, Bellows Air Force Station, Scofield Army Barracks and the Coast Guard air station at Barbers Point.
Retired Marine Maj. William Parker, another Apache Junction NJROTC instructor, said the purpose of the trip was to show the cadets what the military is really like — and to reward them for their hard work in the Apache Junction program.
"These are top-notch cadets," Parker said. "We wanted to give them a somewhat special trip."