On eve of 100th birthday, 'old sailor' Vasey is determined to honor fallen veterans
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — There is not much that retired Rear Adm. Lloyd R. “Joe” Vasey hasn’t accomplished in his first 100 years.
Vasey, who will become a centenarian on Tuesday, now has his sights set on the creation of a Pacific War Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
“There is no recognition of well over 150,000 brave Americans who were lost in the Pacific War,” Vasey said. “They are resting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean somewhere, or their remains are scattered across the South Pacific islands. We need to honor them, and their families need a place to mourn.”
The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye had planned to introduce legislation authorizing the National Park Service to design and build the Pacific War Memorial, Vasey said. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa agreed to pick up the mantle.
“I’m hoping that it can be accomplished in honor of Admiral Vasey’s 100th birthday,” Hanabusa said in a phone interview. “I will try to push it through on the House side, and I’m hoping Sen. John McCain will move it forward on the Senate side. I first became aware of this effort from Sen. Inouye and I want to see it done.”
Vasey envisions the memorial would occupy about a 30-square-yard circular site on the Pearl Harbor waterfront between the visitor center and Bowfin Park. The memorial would become part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is home to the USS Arizona Memorial.
The Pacific War Memorial, which would be surrounded by a lava rock wall, features a center tile mosaic map of the Western Pacific that notes locations of the major battles and campaigns. The mosaic would be surrounded by about 20 podiums that provide visual and electronic informational displays of these key historical moments. On the outside, there would be a 12-foot-wide walkway with six podiums, noting the contributions of the U.S.’s wartime allied nations.
“The memorial meshes beautifully with the ongoing WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument and fills an important niche that is not getting the priority attention that it deserves,” Vasey said.
Hanabusa said the Pacific War Memorial would be an important monument addition.
“The plans are very well thought out. The admiral has put his whole heart and soul into them,” she said.