We were totally blown away by this trip, from the team who met us at the airport and made sure we traversed to the correct car rental agency; to the amazing accommodations at the Sheraton Waikiki; to all of the excursions, especially Pacific Historic Parks' Pearl Harbor experience and Chris' visit to find his great grandfather at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
On Friday when we got to Pearl Harbor, Chris was locked in. He took it all in and enjoyed every minute of his dream come true wish. He absolutely loved this day. It was all very educational and solemn at the same time. He loved experiencing all four tours here, but his favorite was the USS Bowfin. We had an amazing guide, Owen, who was a submariner in Vietnam, and knew this ship from top to bottom. Christopher listened, asked questions and laughed throughout the whole tour. The USS Arizona and the USS Missouri were amazing too.
The biggest surprise for us all was at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. We were told ahead of time what was going on with the honorary disinterment of the USS Oklahoma sailors for DNA testing, and the work to return them to their families, but the process and Christopher’s involvement was such an amazing honor for him, and such a proud moment for his mom and dad. You could see the pride and honor on his face as he stood at attention next to the two-star general in the Honorary Platoon as each of the five caskets were carried by. There are no words for this amazing moment in time. Thank You.
Following the disinterment ceremony, Gene, our Punchbowl National Cemetery guide, took us on a tour of the beautiful National Cemetery. This is where Christopher’s Great Grandpa Kenneth Virgin’s name is carved in the marble stone as a memorial to him and his sacrifice in the Battle of Okinawa. Christopher’s interest in all of this stems from the paper he did on his Great Grandfather. Gene had found the name ahead of time and provided Christopher with paper and graphite to rub over the name.
Wow, what a moment. We’d brought a picture of Grandpa and were able to take many pictures of Christopher (and the rest of us) with the memorial. Christopher also got interviewed by two television stations and a newspaper throughout the course of the morning. This was the first disinterment that the allowed media to be at. All were probably wondering how some kid from Missouri ended up in the Honors Platoon.
Thank you is so inadequate for the over the top AMAZING trip of a lifetime you gave Christopher and the rest of our family.
-Rhonda, Wish Mom