Domo arigato! (Thank you!)
We rounded out our stay in Japan by visiting the Osaka Castle in the morning before boarding the plane for our long flight home. Upon our arrival in the United States we officially concluded our trip with an emotional goodbye to our veterans at both the San Francisco and Kansas City airports as they returned to their homes and loved ones. Although our trip with them is over, the experience and memories will live on in our minds for years to come.
From listening to the battle stories of our WWII veterans in the midst of Typhoon Dolphin to standing on the exact point of where the two atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the trip will forever change our perspective on war.
Executive Vice President Dr. Mullinax stated in the beginning of the trip, “the wealth of our country resides in its people”. Now we know the real meaning behind that statement at the end of these two weeks. Our veterans, the greatest generation, revealed the importance of serving our country and how their sacrifices and our sacrifices today transform America.
This trip could not have been possible without our precious veterans, guides and school administration. We want to thank first and foremost, the the following veterans who accompanied us on this trip.
George Gross Jr, our Navy Seabee
Dr. Gonzalo Garza of the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions
Patrick Thornbrugh from the 2nd Marine Division
Mason Fitch of the 389th Squadron, 504th Bomb Group.
Leonard Porter U.S. Army Air Corps B-24 pilot.
(L-R) Moriah Ellis, George Gross, Paul Renyer
(L-R) Judy Baker, Jenny Frick, Dr. Gonzalo Garza, Alex Eaton-Williams
(L-R) Arend Arends, Mason Fitch, Rebekah Wratney
(L-R) Naomi Parker, Patrick Thornbrugh, David Benedict
(L-R) Abby Good, Leonard Porter, Daniel Strautmann
They served their country with honor and distinction and will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
Special thanks and gratitude goes to Ms. Marie Castro, a civilian who lived on Saipan during the Japanese occupation and subsequent liberation at the hands of U.S. forces. We were also blessed to have Ms. Tomomi Takemoto, whose great uncle served in the Japanese military and was killed in combat on the island of Peleliu, accompany us throughout our travels in Japan. Thank you to Val Gross and Ms. Judy Baker who escorted Mr. Gross and Dr. Garza respectively. The encouragement, love and support you showed to your loved ones was outstanding and an example for us all to follow. Our experience would not have been complete without our remarkable tour guides, Andy Giles of Valor Tours Ltd. who was extremely knowledgeable about the Pacific Campaign, and our Japanese tour guide, Nobu who skillfully navigated us throughout Japan. Thank you to LTC James Schreffler, photographer John Luck, and our nurse, Mrs. Lori Vanderpool.
Tour guides (l-r), Nobu, Andy Giles
This trip would not have become a reality if were not for the generosity of the College administration, and donors. Thank you College of the Ozarks for giving us the opportunity to constantly build our character and patriotism, making us into Christ-like citizens who love our country. Thank you President Jerry Davis, Vice President Fred Mullinax, Dean of Character Education Sue Head, and Paul Baker, and Sara Franks for the countless hours and resources put into the trip. There’s no way to fully express our sincere appreciation for this humbling opportunity.
Domo arigato and sayonara!