Hawaii Landmark Will Get A Multi-Million Dollar Facelift

Bob Kinzler
Bob Kinzler
Jon Jarvix
Jon Jarvix

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) - One of Hawaii's most popular destinations is getting a facelift. A multi-million dollar project will fix-up the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center.

"My name is Bob Kinzler and I am one of several volunteers at the Memorial," the 85-year-old former Army infantry officer introduces himself to an audience at the visitor center theater.

He calls the USS Arizona Memorial home. Kinzler volunteers his time, and he's also a Pearl Harbor survivor.

"The sky was full of very dense, black smoke," he said. "Periodically, there would be a flame erupt."

As a volunteer, he teaches a part of history, and honors those who lost their lives.

"I have a constant reminder, so to speak, of what happened here," said Kinzler.

About 1.5 million people visit the memorial every year, and the 27-year-old visitor center is showing its age. So, Kinzler's home will get a multi-million dollar facelift.

"It will give a lot more information to the people coming here than they really get from just seeing a movie and just walking around and seeing some of these exhibits along the waterfront," said Kinzler.

Organizers say the new center will be much more interactive.

"Through virtual displays and technology, they can still connect," said Jon Jarvis, a regional director for the National Park Service. "So they know this really happened. These were real people with real lives, with families, and this changed them forever."

This $52 million project will honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"They didn't die in vain," said Kinzler. "They gave their lives early on but eventually we won."

And celebrate those who are still with us.

"And what's wonderful about this moment in time is we still have survivors that can come and tell their individual stories," said Jarvis.

Survivors like Bob Kinzler.

Construction begins at the end of this year, but the visitor center will remain open. The replacement is scheduled to open on December 7, 2009.