HONOLULU Former U.S. airman Jack DeTour, 92, and Japanese fighter pilot Shiro Wakita, 88, sworn enemies in the course of Planet War Two, collectively poured whiskey from a battered canteen into Pearl Harbor on Sunday to commemorate the 1941 attack on the U.S. naval base.
As the sun rose over the USS Arizona Memorial, the two former enemy pilots joined the “Blackened Canteen” service on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the Dec. 7 attack, which took two,403 lives and drew the United States into Globe War Two.
Standing side by side following meeting for the 1st time ever, retired Air Force Colonel DeTour and former Imperial Japanese Navy Zero Pilot Wakita together gripped the war-torn U.S. military-concern metal canteen and poured whiskey into the watery grave of the U.S. Navy ship sunk by Japanese bombers.
Now a symbol of friendship, the scorched war relic was recovered in 1945 in Shizuoka, Japan after two B-29 U.S. bombers collided overhead. The 23 Americans killed were buried alongside Japanese citizens who died in the bombing raid. Located among the wreckage was the blackened canteen, filled with whiskey, and it was kept in Japan to don’t forget loved ones lost.
Because the 1980s, Japanese residents have routinely brought it to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony aimed at keeping peace.
“To know we have this friendship is excellent. It is fantastic,” stated DeTour, who wore a purple flower lei more than his dark suit.
DeTour now lives in Honolulu and was a young man from Oregon when he joined the military in 1942.
There were no Pearl Harbor survivors among the Planet War Two veterans attending this year’s canteen ceremony, mentioned Gary Meyers, spokesman for the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
The final surviving officer from the USS Arizona, Joseph Langdell, died on Feb. four in California at age one hundred. An internment service for Langdell, who was a 27-year-old ensign sleeping in quarters on shore when the surprise attack was launched, will take place at Pearl Harbor on Monday.
At the canteen ceremony, Dr. Hiroya Sugano, director of the Zero Fighter Admirers’ Club, stated he keeps the canteen in his possession and carries it to the ceremony each and every year due to the fact it is a potent symbol.
“The blackened canteen is an inspiration for peace,” said Sugano.
(Writing by Barbara Goldberg in New York Editing by Andrew Hay)