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An American Hero Returns to Pearl Harbor

Each year military organizations and associations join together with the State of Hawaii to commemorate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, an event that President Franklin Roosevelt noted was “a day that will live in infamy.”  The surprise attack and heavy casualties (2,043 people lost their lives that day) came as a profound shock to Americans, and directly led to the country’s entry into World War II. 

The annual commemorative events are designed not only for remembrance and reflection about the losses of Pearl Harbor, but also as a celebration of the resilience and courage of Americans who fought in World War II, as well as the decades of peace and better relations Americans have enjoyed with our neighbors in Japan.

In this spirit, Alexander + Roberts crafted a unique, one-time itinerary, combining Japan and Hawaii, which culminates in attendance at the many commemorative events that make up this year’s 75th Anniversary program.  In addition to visiting Hiroshima, Kyoto, bustling Tokyo, and stately Mt. Fuji in Japan, we continue to Honolulu for two days of exclusive exploration of the sights and sounds of Pearl Harbor before joining Pearl Harbor’s survivors and veterans, as well as dignitaries and diplomats in special seating at the commemorative events of this significant anniversary.  Expected are President Barack Obama, as well as Prime Minister Abe of Japan, which will mark the first visit of a Japanese head of state to Pearl Harbor.

Among Alexander + Roberts’s guests on this once-in-a-lifetime journey are 94-year-old Sgt. Robert “Bob” Masto and his wife, Nell.  Bob served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1942-1946 in both occupied Japan and Pearl Harbor.  The New Jersey native was just 20-years-old when he was drafted in October of 1942.  After basic training at Kentucky’s Camp Breckenridge, and later Camp Rucker in Alabama, Bob was stationed in Honolulu as part of the military defense of the Hawaiian Islands.  Bob has potent memories of the walls of Schofield Barracks, riddled with holes from machine gun fire following the attack on Pearl Harbor.  In addition to unloading ships, Bob also conducted night patrols to protect Honolulu, Kuwaii, and Oahu from Japanese attack. 

Bob can recall acute tension as his unit got “combat ready” to deploy to Japan.  “It was a somber time,” he says, “estimations of U.S. casualties were about 1 million, but the Japanese had vowed never to surrender and we knew that invasion was the only way we could win the war.”

In August 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which quickly led to Japanese surrender.  Bob deployed to occupied Japan to serve in Osaka one month later, remaining there until January of 1946.  He was stationed at the Japanese Mint, guarding the abundant supply of gold and silver Japan had seized from vanquished foes.  Bob very modestly claims he can’t recall the specific campaign ribbons he was awarded, but we at Alexander + Roberts are very grateful for his service to our country, and proud to be playing a small part in getting him to the ‘Hero’s Section’ at the commemorative events in Pearl Harbor, as well as some of the places he will remember from his time in Japan

Have a great trip, Bob!

Alexander + Roberts was founded in 1954 to forge better understanding between the United States and Russia through travel.  Our itineraries have expanded to include all seven continents, but our mission has stayed the same: to help culturally inquisitive American explore far-flung lands on seven continents.

Posted: 9/21/2016 12:11:20 PM by Alexander + Roberts