Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island Control Tower Opens to Public with New View

May 27, 2022

The Shoen family of U-Haul funded the elevator that will lift visitors to the observation deck for a panorama of America’s WWII aviation battlefield

The historic Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor is finally ready to open to the public – and with a view perhaps more powerful and poignant than any Hawaii has to offer.

The tower fittingly opens for operations on Memorial Day, May 30, in honor of those who died during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Ticket options include the Top of the Tower Tour, a first-class guided tour of the 15-story, 168-foot structure, with access to a restored elevator and the observation deck to behold “Freedom’s View,” a stirring 360-degree panorama of America’s WWII aviation battlefield. There are only 120 of these tickets available each day.

Advanced tickets are available at pearlharboraviationmuseum.org/tickets or by calling (808) 441-1000.

Preserving History for Future Generations

Standing in disrepair for decades, the tower has undergone more than $7 million in restoration work since 2012. The addition of a working elevator was made possible by the Shoen family of U-Haul, a company founded by a U.S. Navy veteran and his wife in 1945.

The Ford Island Control Tower before and after restoration efforts

U-Haul Chairman Joe Shoen will speak at a special dedication ceremony on Saturday at Pearl Harbor, and 120 auction winners will be granted first public access to the tower on Sunday. A display in the tower lobby pays homage to the U-Haul WWII veterans who served in the Pacific Theater.

“Reopening the Ford Island Control Tower is another way to honor the memories and preserve the stories of the brave individuals who sacrificed their lives defending our freedom,” stated Joe Shoen, son of U-Haul founders L.S. “Sam” and Anna Mary Carty Shoen. “Our history must be shared with future generations. This Memorial Day, and every day, U-Haul honors our veterans and active military members for their service and sacrifice.”

U-Haul Ties to Arizona, Pearl Harbor and Veteran Support

The project holds added significance to U-Haul, which has been headquartered in Arizona since 1967. The Top of the Tower Tour offers views of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial featuring the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as Battleship Row, where eight ships were bombed and four sunken, the Arizona among them.

U-Haul veterans who served in the WWII Pacific Theater are honored in the tower lobby

Rod Bengston, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum Director of Exhibits, Restoration and Curatorial Services, noted the following sites can also be observed:

  • Military bases and airfields at Hickam, Wheeler, Bellows, Ewa, Schofield, and Kaneohe, where 188 U.S. military aircrafts were bombed
  • Ewa Plains, where the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service initiated the attack
  • Hospital Point, where the USS Nevada was beached
  • The Ford Island runway, surrounding shipyards, and historic buildings

“From the tower, it’s easy to imagine the thunderous rain of bombs and bullets coming down, erupting in fire, chaos and death,” Bengston said. “Now, however, visitors will also be able to grasp a sense of peace and tranquility that comes from the historic view.”

Elissa Lines, Executive Director of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, said the tower stands as a symbol of resilience and peace. “It’s time for the world to witness Pearl Harbor from an aerial perspective,” Lines noted.

Plan your Pearl Harbor visit or contribute to the upcoming final phase of tower restoration work at pearlharboraviationmuseum.org.

Learn more about the history of U-Haul and its commitment to supporting veterans at uhaul.com.

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