Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day One: Tomas' Log

     Today was the first full day of our trip, and boy was it full! After 36 hours of travel, the boat was a refreshing sight to say the least. Today was also the first full day with our veterans. My veteran's name is Chester Thomason, or as he introduces himself, Chet. Chet is ninety years old, but you wouldn't know it from his stories. Chet was in the Navy during World War II. He was stationed on the U.S.S. Monssen destroyer during the tour of Guadalcanal. His ship was sunk off the coast of a small island neighboring Guadalcanal named Savo. 
Today we went to Savo and participated in a wreath throwing ceremony. The boat was cruising off the coast, and it was gorgeous. The island was lush and green, and the water was an incredible shade of blue. The boat's staff brought out a beautiful wreath bought in town and handed it to my veteran. Chet stood by the railing of the boat in a Guadalcanal veteran's vest and looked out over the water where his ship sank. There were 256 men on the Monssen, only 50 men were rescued from the water when it sank. Of those 50 men, only 8 were rated as able bodied. Chet was one of them. As he threw the wreath overboard he said, "This is for the 200 men that are still down below." After the short ceremony, we went ashore on Savo island, got some sand, and took pictures, but I couldn't get Chet's words out of my head. For me, Savo is just another a beautiful place, almost a paradise in fact. But for Chet, the island of Savo is a tomb.

Today was a day full of different perspectives. For those of us that haven't been in the Pacific before, today was a wonderful introduction, full of beauty and new, incredible, sights. But for the returning veterans these islands are something totally different. They are not astounded by the beauty around us. Instead, they remember what it looked like 70 years ago when they were here and these islands were a vicious battle ground. Our perspective changes everything that we see. This week is an opportunity for us to look at the world through very different perspectives, and take time to learn all that we can from the men who first saw these islands not as paradise, but something closer to hell.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Tomas for sharing what you saw & felt along with Chet's memories & feelings. Enjoy learn a new perspective of life.
    Kim Marshall