The History of Ford Island

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Ford Island before Pearl Harbor

Ford Island, located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, has played a significant role in the history of Hawaii and the United States. Originally known as Moku'ume'ume, the island was renamed in honor of Captain Joseph Ford, a naval officer who was killed in a seaplane accident on the island in 1913.

Aerial view of Ford Island 1954

In the years leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford Island served as a critical hub for the US Navy. The island was home to numerous facilities, including a seaplane base, repair shops, and barracks for naval personnel. In the days before the attack, many of the US Pacific Fleet's ships were stationed in and around Pearl Harbor, including several on Ford Island.

What happened to Ford Island during the Pearl Harbor attack?

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack targeted many of the Navy's ships and facilities, including those on Ford Island. The island was hit by numerous bombs and strafing runs, causing significant damage to the seaplane base and other facilities. Many naval personnel were killed or injured in the attack, and the island remained an active battlefield for much of the day.

In the aftermath of the attack, the US Navy worked to repair the damage to Ford Island and the other facilities in Pearl Harbor. Despite the devastation, the island remained an important part of the Navy's operations in the Pacific during World War II. Over the course of the war, numerous facilities were constructed or expanded on the island, including additional barracks, hangars, and maintenance facilities.

After the war, Ford Island continued to serve as an important Navy installation. In the years following World War II, the island was home to a variety of naval units and served as a staging ground for numerous military operations. Today, Ford Island remains an active naval base and is home to several commands and units, including the Pacific Fleet's command headquarters and the USS Missouri Memorial, which is moored at a pier on the island.

In addition to its military history, Ford Island has also been the site of several important cultural and historical events. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed his famous Spirit of St. Louis airplane on the island as part of his trans-Pacific flight. More recently, the island was used as a filming location for the movie Pearl Harbor, which depicted the events of December 7, 1941.

In conclusion, Ford Island has a rich and complex history that spans decades of military and cultural significance. From its early days as a naval base to its pivotal role in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the island has played a key role in shaping the history of Hawaii and the United States. Today, Ford Island remains an important part of the US Navy's operations in the Pacific and a symbol of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served there over the years.

Scene at the Ford Island Naval Air Station's seaplane base soon after the Japanese attack

Ford Island Bus Tours

The National Park Service offers guided bus tours of Ford Island as part of its Pearl Harbor Historic Sites program. These tours provide visitors with an in-depth look at the island's history and its role in the events of December 7, 1941.

During the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to explore historic sites on the island, including the USS Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The tour also includes a drive across the iconic Ford Island Bridge, which spans the channel between Ford Island and the mainland.

Some notes about the tour:

  • Cost: Free with a $1 per ticket reservation fee.
  • Length: 90 Minutes
  • Up to 45 minutes of walking and standing on unven ground should be expected. Visitors must remain with the escorted group at all times and refrain from photographing private residences.

Learn more about the Bus Tour Here

Purchase Tickets Here

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