Posts by April M. Williams

Posts by April M. Williams, speaker, author and coach

Six War Veterans’ Remains Arrive at Hickam AFB for Identification

The remains of six soldiers arrived at Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii today. We attended the ceremony hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command held in Hanger 35 on base. The transfer cases will move to the JPAC Central Identification Lab where forensic analysis will attempt to identify these individuals, then notify their next of kin.

The short program opened with a powerful voice singing our national anthem. A joint service honor guard and senior officers from each military branch were there this morning to pay their respects. Several hundred people gathered as the six flag draped, transfer cases surrounded by an honor guard were carried off the C-17 transport aircraft onto two awaiting buses.

The first five transfer cases carried World War II remains recovered from the United Kingdom, Canada, Vanuatu, Germany and Papua New Guinea. The sixth case was a Vietnam loss recovered in Laos.

Attending the service were veterans including a group of Purple Heart award recipients, active duty military personnel and media. The solemn service ended with a lone bugler playing taps.

Soldiers Remains return to Hickam AFB Honolulu

The remains of six soldiers return to Hickam AFB Honolulu for identification

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

We also spoke with a couple of Hawaii residents who attend as many of these events as possible. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. She was visibly moved by the proceedings this morning.

She met her current husband, Jim Hickerson through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. Jim was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. He and Carole attend about six of these arrival ceremonies each year.

Since 1970, the U.S. government has identified remains of 1,770 American military personnel and reunited them with their families.

Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

The Honolulu Academy of Arts in Honolulu is a cultural smorgasbord. The museum is home to a permanent collection of art from around the world and much more. The Doris Duke Theater screens independent and international films. The open air Pavilion Cafe serves a fusion lunch menu featuring local ingredients amid a tranquil garden. Your tour of Shangra La, Doris Duke’s home with a collection of Islamic art, begins and ends at the museum.

One of my favorite areas is the peaceful Chinese Courtyard with the brilliant lotus blossoms poking out from the azure pond, guarded by stone dragons.

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Ji Sun Chang suggested we visit the museum for a special exhibit. On display November 03, 2011 – January 08, 2012 are 56 paintings from the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City along with items from the Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. This is the first time these 13-14 century works of art have traveled outside China. Collections Registrar Pauline Sugino traveled to Beijing to bring this collection to Hawaii.

The exhibit titled “Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City” features works by influential artists of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng.

These pieces feature several distinct styles of brush strokes and use of color. The works of these four masters influenced artists of the Yuan dynasty. I was amazed at how well these paintings have been maintained. Despite their age, they are in excellent condition.

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

Entrances to the exhibit and round doorways between rooms are designed to transform visitors to ancient China. Note the garden scene above as we enter and round doorways inside.

QR codes posted next to the landscapes link to podcasts with more information about specific works and artists. Click on the image below to see the introductory episode.

Honolulu Waikiki Toys for Tots motorcycle parade SBU 2011

Street Biker United Oahu hosted the 37th annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade December 4, 2011. The ride starts in Honolulu at Magic Island continues through Waikiki ending at Kapiolani Community College. Marines collect the toys which are distributed to Hawaii girls and boys.

This event is organized by President Rick Davis and Public Relations Officer Ray Pagan of the Street Bikers United Oahu chapter. About 4,000 riders from all over Hawaii, mainland and Japan participate.

Tourist in Waikiki stop to watch the bikes as the roll by many with large toys on the front or back. Riders often dress in holiday garb.

Click on the image below to see video of the 2011 Toys for Tots ride in Honolulu.

70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Before the day was over, the Unites States lost airplanes, battleship and many lives in this surprise attack.

This week, we remember the 70th anniversary of this World War II milestone with events at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The brand new visitor center was opened on Pearl Harbor day of 2010 as part of the final reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Members of this group are in their 90’s and many find it hard to travel long distances to these gatherings.

We are fortunate to have met several of these heroes and are touched by  their stories.

A visit Ford Island and Pearl Harbor is moving. Sites include the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin, USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum. Nearby Punchbowl National Cemetery is nestled in a volcanic crater and narrates the war time timeline through mosaics.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, we share stories of service men who were at Pearl Harbor during the bombings and we were fortunate to meet these Pearl Harbor survivors. The personal stories they tell are much more powerful than reading history in books. These gentlemen in their 80s and 90s have plenty of spunk and courage. Read their stories, see picture and watch video of our heroes. Click on the links below to hear their testimonials.

Arizona Memorail in Pearl Harbor Honolulu Hawaii

Mission Hope Chicago Operation Supports Our Troops

The goal of Mission Hope Chicago’s Support Our Troops drive is to provide care packages for all 225,000 deployed US soldiers to remind them that we appreciate their service. Since Memorial Day 2011, they have delivered packages to over 3,250 solders.

Mission Hope Chicago partners with Operation Support Our Troops to determine items requested by deployed solders. Donations are used to purchase and ship these goods overseas. What’s on these soldier’s wish lists? Things we often take for granted in the United States. Most requested items include:

  • Tuna
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Canned soup and pasta
  • Granola bars
  • Canned nuts
  • Eye drops
  • Foot powder

Collection sites are conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area.

Troops also appreciate your cards and letters of support. A tax deductible contribution of $200 will purchase packages for 10 soldiers and cover shipping expenses. Gifts of any amount is welcome.

Submit your soldier’s address to Support Our Troops. For more information on the program,  email Ben Thompson. Mission Hope Chicago is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.

Ben Thompson working one of the many Mission Hope Operation Support Our Troops donation collection events

Where Are You Today is on Google Plus Business Pages

“Where Are You Today?” now has a Google Plus business pages. Stop by and add us to your Google Plus circles.

Papa G Restaurant Serves Greek Specialties in Elburn Illinois

Heading back from a trip to Sandwich, Illinois, we stopped at Papa G’s in Elburn for lunch. It was a Sunday morning and we has a short wait for a table. The restaurant is bright, clean and airy. The specials of the day were cheese or vegetable lasagna.

While perusing the menu, we ordered saganaki. The cheese appetizer arrived hot, though not flamed at the table, as is common at many Greek restaurants. Accompanying bread basket selections included raisin bread hearty French bread, crackers, bread sticks, butter and jelly.

Saganaki at Papa G's

Saganaki at Papa G’s Elburn, Illinois

Our server was friendly and helpful. Searching for a vegetarian choice, she offered to have the kitchen make a custom wrap using the veggies on hand and salad dressing. This was served with cottage cheese and French fries. Noel ordered fried chicken, mashed potatoes chicken gravy. The meal came with broccoli, tomato and orange slices.

Fried Chicken dinner at Papa G's Elburn, Illinois

Fried Chicken dinner at Papa G’s Elburn, Illinois

The large menu includes burgers, steak, Greek salads, pasta, chicken and Athenian steak includes some vegetarian items. A large party celebrated a family event in a separate room in the rear of the restaurant separated by glass doors.

Papa G’s is also located in Huntley, Illinois.
Papa G's on Urbanspoon

Papa G's on Foodio54

Waikiki World War One Honor Roll Remembers Brave Soldiers

The World War One Honor Roll is across the street from the larger and more well known Waikiki Natatorium. The massive stone recognizes the 101 Hawaiian Territory soldiers who served in World War I. Each hero’s name is etched in one of three columns on the marble stone. This monument reminds us of the bravery of these people who served for United States or British forces during the war.

The Waikiki Natatorium and World War One Honor Roll are located at the east end of Waikiki Beach on Kalakaua Ave just east of Kapahulu Ave. When you visit, stop by the nearby Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo.

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki


Saturday Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Early Saturday mornings the crowds begin to gather at the Saturday Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market. Vendors set up early for shoppers who arrive as early at 7 AM to select their fresh produce. Purchases can not be collected until the air horn goes off at 7:30, announcing the official opening.

Local farmers bring fresh tomatoes, papayas, greens, apples, oranges, pineapple, onions, potatoes, sweet corn, mangoes. Treat yourself to exotic foods like Dragon fruit, ramubtan, dragons eyes, purple potatoes, cherimoya.

Tables are covered with colorful orchids, tropical flowers and we see customers leave with huge bouquets. Other delicacies include honey, salsa, kettle corn, pastries and breads.

When you finish shopping, treat yourself to breakfast from one of the many food vendors. Crowd favorites include Kona coffee, heirloom tomato pizza, Egyptian chicken, fried green tomatoes, Portuguese sausage and eggs. The Hawaiian staple, loco moco plates include a scoop of rice, scoop of macaroni salad, eggs all smothered in gravy topped with meat, often hamburger.

Da Spot one of the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market vendors

Da Spot one of the many vendors at K

There is but one picnic table in the park to sit and eat your meal. Best bet is to find a curb or a spot on the retaining wall to eat. Bring a straw mat and enjoy a picnic on the grass.

By 9:00, the crowds are so thick is hard to navigate. The KCC farmers market is popular with Japanese tourists who arrive by the busload.

Crowds at Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Crowds gather early at Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Bring your own reusable shopping bags for comfort carrying your purchases through the market. The small parking lot fills up quickly. KCC is a short walk from the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. The college is located across from the entrance to Diamond Head state park.

Convenient Public transportation via The Bus drops passengers off and picks up in front of the farmers market. Ask for a transfer and your return trip is free.

Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu Hawaii World War 1 Memorial

The Waikiki Natatorium, just Diamond Head side of Waikiki Beach is a memorial to World War 1 veterans. At the time, Hawaii was a United States possession, not yet our 50th state. Over 100 residents of Hawaii fought for our country in this war.

Opened in 1927, this salt water pool was a popular swimming hole. On opening day, celebrities were invited to the festivities and those attending included Olympic Gold Medalist and surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Other famous swimmers include Johnny Weismuller, Esther Williams and Buster Crabbe.

Bleachers next to the pool offered a specular view of the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki Beach. The concrete facade is divided by a towering iron gate fence while four stone eagles watch over visitors as they enter the pool.

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

The gate of the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu, Hawaii

Over the years, time has taken a toll on the building. The city of Honolulu infused money into renovations though these we halted before completion. The site is was closed due to dangerous conditions. The pool decks have deteriorated leaving gaping holes in the concrete.

Estimates to repair and reopen the war memorial are in the millions of dollars. Honolulu officials considered tearing down the facility and moving the gates to another location in Honolulu.

Preservation groups have organized to fight the destruction of this war memorial. For more information follow the Waikiki Natatorium on Twitter or Facebook.

If you are in Honolulu, take a few minutes to visit the Waikiki war memorial while it still stands. When you visit, walk directly across Kaulakaua to see the World War 1 Veterans honor roll.

Click on the image below to watch this video episode of “Where Are You Today?”.

%d bloggers like this: