Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day Seven: Josh's Log

  We woke up this morning to the familiar sight of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands and the main City of Guadalcanal. The air was filled with excitement because today we would land on Red Beach, the same place the Marines landed seventy years ago. We would also drive through the island and see key battlefields, Henderson field, and the American WWII memorial. When the Marines landed seventy year ago, Guadalcanal had just been "some island in the Pacific." But today it holds a lot of memories from some of the most important days in our veterans' lives. 
  For Mr. Paul Castiglione it brought back some of those memories as he saw where he was stationed during the war. Mr. Castiglione was a mechanic for the Marine Corp Cactus Air Squadron. His main job was working on the F4F Wildcats. Without guys like him on the ground keeping the planes in the air the ground soldiers would have been without air-support and at the mercy of the Japanese Bombers. Almost all of his time was spent at Henderson Field except for a few days where he had to go help unload a transport at Tulagi and had a near death experience with a bomb. But seeing the airfield is what brought back most of the memories. And as we drove by, he shared stories of how things used to be when he was here. He pointed out the place where his tent use to be, where buildings used to sit, and how the jungle around the airfield looked when he was here.  
  The most important part of the day came when we got to the U.S. Memorial. The entire trip, Mr. Castiglione had been trying to recall when he came to shore, but time had taken that from his memory. Today, we found on the Memorial to the Cactus Squadron that they came to the Island on the 20th of August. This helped give him a date when he came to Guadalcanal. When I asked him what his favorite part of the day was he said "The memorials, there isn't much more they can do for us." To Mr. Castiglione these memorials are special, as they honor what the soldiers did on this Island and all those that didn't make it off.  To others like myself, they serve as a reminder to everyone who sees them what took place on this island seventy years ago. And now, all of us have a mission to pass on these memories to everyone we meet.  I think the inscription on the memorial sums up our trip very nicely: "May this memorial endure the ravages of time until the wind, rain, and tropical storms wear away its face but never its memories."

 And now as the sun sinks in the west, 
We bid our dead a peaceful rest. 
This island became your final home. 
But fear not my brother you are not alone.
We will not forget the price you paid, 
Whenever we see your Island Grave
For this is not just "some Island" anymore 
Forever in our hearts these are sacred shores.
Your country remembers what you did in those days
And we owe you a debt we can never repay.
Though storms may come and wash the land into the sea
Your memories will never fade away from me.


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