You never know what you will see and learn when you #getoutandseasomething! I use that tag on my instagram because life is not meant to be lived on the couch. I believe that opportunities breed more opportunities and this week while completing a long time desire to visit the Pearl Harbor historic sites, we were able to meet an incredible man. We happened upon him volunteering at the Pacific Aviation Museum which is located at Hickham Field, the site of incredible destruction on December 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Retired Colonel Edward Jurkens is a Distinguished Flying Cross Medal recipient who flew heavy bomber’s in World War II. He earned the medal “for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight in leading bombing attacks as Commander of a Heavy Bombing Group, on a heavily-fortified Japanese base during WWII, and enabling his group to inflict severe damage on hostile personnel and material.”
Next month, Colonel Jurkens will celebrate his 101st birthday. As we talked, he told me he was familiar with New Jersey where I am from. He celebrated his honeymoon in Atlantic City in 1941 before the attack on Pearl. He was already flying in the Army Air Force. Reflectively, he smiled and said, “that’s where I learned to love lobster, but folks tell me I probably wouldn’t want to visit now, it was quite a place then.” Colonel Jurkens also served and flew missions in the Korean War and Vietnam. A soft spoken man with a kind demeanor and willingness to share his time and experience freely, he volunteers at the museum every Monday so if you get the chance, look him up. He’s an American icon whose story is weaved into the folds of the flags that flew over historic fierce battles like Guadalcanal and others.
The Pacific Aviation Museum is part of four things to tour that include the USS Arizona Memorial, World War II Submarine Bowfin and the USS Battleship Missouri. These museums are a great testament to the “Greatest Generation” and are part of the National Park Service. Makes for a great day.