By Leland Kim
PALI LOOKOUT (KHNL) - As U.S. service members continue fighting in Iraq, Hawaii's military commemorates the sacrifice of a group of airmen in World War II, 65 years ago Thursday on Oahu.
April 5, 1942. The world is at war, and Hawaii is under siege. Japan took over most of the Pacific islands, and had its eye on Hawaii.
"Hawaii, very much under a siege mentality, was looking for an invasion fleet to hopefully repel that and to turn the tide of war," said Maj. Colin Perry, a retired Air Force officer, who now works for the Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society.
Ten airmen flew out of Hickam Air Force Base in a B-17 aircraft. They were on patrol, looking for an enemy seaplane that dropped bombs on Tantalus.
It was a sunny day on Thurday, but 65 years ago, heavy rain and ominous clouds made flying difficult. The B-17 crashed on the other side of this ridge.
All ten airmen died.
"These folks worked hard, committed themselves, sacrificed their lives unselfishly," said Col. Stanley J. Osserman, Jr., the commander of the 154th Mission Support Group of the Hawaii Air National Guard. "I mean they were out there for us."
While the current war in Iraq is different, Col. Osserman said there are some similarities.
"They're committed today just as these young men were committed back in 1942," he said.
So today, the military honors those men: forefathers who came before them.
"And when you wear a military uniform, you're a service member," said Col. Osserman. "You're out there to serve others. And you get the most back when you're out there serving others."