College of the Ozarks Students Accompany WWII Veterans/Pearl Harbor Survivors to 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor
Ten College of the Ozarks students will accompany five WWII veterans (two of which are Pearl Harbor survivors) to the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor next week. The group, which will set out on this historic journey Sunday, will spend four days in Oahu, visiting the Punchbowl National Military Cemetery, touring Ford Island, witnessing the USS Arizona in its watery grave, and attending the Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary events.
Two of the veterans, Guy Piper and Clarence Pfundheller, are Pearl Harbor survivors, so the anniversary events will have special meaning to them and their student travelers. Veterans Parke Piper, George Beden and Bruce Heilman all fought in the Pacific Theatre and will be able to share their stories about engagements at Okinawa, the Phillipines, Midway and the recovery effort at Hiroshima following the atomic bombing.
After Oahu, the group will travel to the Okinawa to see the sites of perhaps the bloodiest battle of the Pacific. Following Okinawa, they will go to Japan to visit the Peace Museum and Atomic Dome in Hiroshima.
“From this trip, I expect to learn nothing less than how little I knew about true sacrifice and service,” says College of the Ozarks junior Chelsea Kliethermes. “It will be the ultimate opportunity to travel alongside some of our nation’s heroes and learn their stories.”
Since June 2009, College of the Ozarks (a small, Missouri work college) has been sending its students with WWII veterans to European and Pacific battle sites to learn about history from the men who lived it. The students are devoted to learning each veteran’s story, so that their legacy will live on, their sacrifices will not be forgotten.
During the trips, two or three students pair up with a veteran and document the trip by journaling, keeping up a group blog and recording the veterans stories, as well as significant moments on the trip, by using a flip-cam or digital voice recorder. Students report learning more during one of these two-week trips than they learned in 12 years of pre-college schooling. Moreover, they vow to pass on to their children what they learned.
This trip and others like it are about history and making history. Generation gaps are bridged, emotional wounds (of the veterans) healed, and what may have been a superficial patriotism transformed into unwavering love of country and our nation’s veterans.