Pearl Harbor veteran visits Lahaina fifth-graders
LAHAINA – King Kamehameha III Elementary School students and staff recently had the honor of meeting Chief Petty Officer Richard Higgins. He is a Navy veteran who was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Higgins was a trained radioman specializing in communications technology.
He was on Ford Island when the Japanese attacked.
Higgins said, “I was rudely awakened, jumped out of my bunk, ran to the edge of the lanai and saw planes flying by with a big red meatball on the fuselage and wings.” He was referring to the flag on the Japanese planes.
His duty during the attack was to push or pull the planes that were not on fire away from those that were burning, because when the fuel tanks exploded, hot gasoline sprayed everywhere.
He shared one story in which he was pushing a plane with his head right under the fuel tank. He watched tracers flying by just beyond the wing tip of the plane he was pushing.
He said, “With 1,500 gallons of gasoline right above your head, that wasn’t very comforting.”
Higgins loves going to schools and sharing his experience with the students. Fifth grade teachers Vijay Thangaraj and Brandon Ueki’s classes enjoyed hearing all his stories and had many questions for him.
Higgins attended the 75th Commemoration event at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.