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A Wildcat Basketball Field Trip to Remember

by | Jan 7, 2018

The Davidson men’s basketball team stands on the ramp leading to the USS Arizona Memorial.

More than a year ago, Davidson College announced that the men’s basketball team would be traveling to Oahu in December 2017 to participate in the Diamond Head Classic. Having had the tremendous opportunity to serve at Pearl Harbor for three years and to meet so many Pearl Harbor Survivors, I was excited at the prospect of being able to share the living history of Pearl Harbor.

Members of the Davidson men’s basketball team, alumni, family, and friends at the Valor in the Pacific Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

While the focus for the team would clearly be on the court and the opponents they would face, I remained convinced that a trip around the waters of Pearl Harbor would be very meaningful to the Wildcat team, coaches, family members, and alumni in Hawaii for the tournament.

There was a little hesitation to ask for a special tour – after all, the only “day off” during the tournament was Sunday – Christmas Eve. However, that hesitation was mitigated by a desire to share my love for the history surrounding Pearl Harbor and our nation’s greatest generation.

On Sunday afternoon, December 24, the Davidson basketball team and a host of Wildcats gathered at the National Park Service – WWII Valor in the Pacific Memorial Visitors’ Center.

Following a movie about the lead up to December 7, 1941, the group boarded a U.S. Navy boat and headed out to the USS Arizona Memorial. On board the memorial, they saw the buoys that mark the bow and stern of the ship, the rusted turret that is the only part of the ship that is above water, the hull of the ship visible at the well, and the shrine room of the names of those who died on December 7, and those who have been buried with their shipmates in recent years.

The shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial includes the names of all the Sailors and Marines killed on December 7, 1941 on the wall. The names listed on the benches (lower left and right) were survivors of the attack who have subsequently died and been interred with their shipmates.

After the tour of Arizona, the Wildcats returned to the boat and traveled past the Battleship Missouri museum, out toward the entrance of Pearl Harbor – a route similar to USS Nevada’s on December 7. After rounding the southern tip of Ford Island, the tour continued around to the USS Utah Memorial.

Along the way, our tour guide, Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Adams, and I told stories to bring the tour to life. I had tried to grasp the importance of imparting these personal stories of the history of our nation not only to the U.S. members of the Davidson team and family, but also to our international players who represent Serbia, Nigeria, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden. We not only wanted to tell stories about the heroism of that day, but also about the two mortal enemies of that day who are now the strongest of allies.

Our stories included, but were not limited to:

  • A leadership example about Navy Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was the senior Navy officer killed on December 7, and his son, who rose to the ranks of 4-star admiral in his own career. This son, Isaac C. Kidd Jr., continued to stay in touch with the men who had served on his father’s ship – USS Arizona – until the day he died.
  • The USS Utah is the second ship that remains in the waters of Pearl Harbor after being sunk on December 7, 1941. After touring the USS Arizona Memorial on the east side of Ford Island, the Wildcats’ tour took them past the Utah on the west side.

    The Commanding Officer of the USS Missouri’s decision to give a deceased Japanese Kamikaze pilot a burial with full military honors after the pilot crashed into the ship in April 1945. Captain William Callaghan emphasized to his crew that the young pilot who had died was a military man carrying out orders and should be treated with dignity and respect. The crew sewed a Japanese flag, and buried the pilot at sea in the same manner they buried their own dead.

  • And a story about an infant child who had died before the start of the war, whose cremated remains went down with the ship aboard USS Utah, and about her twin sister who often came to visit the ship and her twin’s final resting place.

As the sun set on Pearl Harbor that evening, the boat returned to the visitor’s center and the Wildcats boarded the bus, and fans returned to their hotels and homes for the evening.

The sun setting over Pearl Harbor on December 24, 2017.

The next morning, the Wildcats journeyed to the hardwood at the Stan Sherriff center in Oahu and defeated the Akron Zips 91-78 in their final matchup of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

I want to publicly thank the women and men of the National Park Service, Navy Region Hawaii, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for giving me the opportunity to share a very special tour of Pearl Harbor with my fellow Wildcats. Mahalo Nui Loa!


Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell, U.S. Navy, Capt. ret., grew up in a military family and lived around the globe before graduating from Davidson College with a degree in Political Science. During a 25-year career in the Navy, she served aboard three different ships and held a variety of shore-based assignments. She was stationed on the East and West coasts, as well as overseas. She had tours at the Pentagon and the White House, and volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan. She moved to Davidson in late 2014 and has become involved in a variety of volunteer activities with college, church, and community. She serves as a photographer and Sports Editor for News of Davidson.

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