When Vietnam veteran Joseph Hooker stopped briefly in Hawaii on his way home from the war, he promised to return one day to honor both the service men and civilians who died during the raid on Pearl Harbor. Finding out he was dying, the Marine Corps veteran finally realized his longtime dream on Wednesday.
According to the Huffington Post, Hooker traveled from his home in Maryland to Honolulu in order to visit the site of the Japanese attack that pushed the U.S. into World War II. The trip was made possible by The Dream Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to those who have life expectancies of a year or less. Hooker has been told he has less than two months to live.
Hookers’s dream began when he had a 20-minute stop in the islands in 1971. At the time, he was heading home from Vietnam. He was allowed to leave the ship so he could call his family and eat some ice cream, which didn’t amount to much time off shore. That day, he vowed to come back someday “to honor the men and women that gave their life at Pearl Harbor.”
Over forty years later, Hooker’s brother and sister-in-law took turns pushing his wheelchair on a private tour of the battleship USS Missouri. “I’ve never seen a battleship like this before,” he said. While on the warship, he visited the spot where Japan surrendered.
The Huffington Post reported that veterans often see Pearl Harbor as a symbol of why they served in the military, explained Jessie Higa, a volunteer historian from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-HIckim.
“My dream was to see Pearl Harbor,” Hooker said. “I can go home now and rest in peace.”
The Dream Foundation’s new program named Dreams for Veterans was the group that made Hooker’s wish come true. When he applied, he wrote a letter that he yearned to visit Pearl Harbor to “learn, touch and understand what happened there.”
The Dream Foundation’s new program, Dreams for Veterans, made Hooker’s wish possible. In applying, Hooker wrote a letter saying that he longed to visit Pearl Harbor to “learn, touch and understand what happened there.”