Boat Divers Take USS Arizona Memorial Visitors to Pearl Harbor’s Past

Boat Divers Take USS Arizona Memorial Visitors to Pearl Harbor's Past

A select few of the Navy’s newest Sailors will play an essential role in helping some Americans mark the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7; they’re boat drivers who transport visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial.

After basic training and rating instruction, many Sailors’ first duty station involves going to sea on a surface ship, aircraft carrier or submarine. However, some go to shore special programs first, like Quartermaster Seaman Anna Wagner, a USS Arizona Memorial boat driver.

“A lot of people think I’m an officer, because it’s such an important job,” Wagner said. “People on my boat will say ‘She must be a captain,’ but then they are surprised find out I’m a seaman.'”

Wagner drives the boat that takes visitors from the Pearl Harbor pier to visit the memorial each day. She said this was a bit of a culture shock at first, given that people from all nationalities, cultures and walks of life flood in and out of these boats each day.

“I’m from a small town in Idaho, so there’s definitely a lot of diversity in what I see in my job compared to home,” Wagner said.

She began driving the boat before earning her designation as a quartermaster, accommodating hundreds, and often thousands, of visitors daily.

“We run every 15 minutes, and if it slows down throughout the day, we’ll do two an hour. So with 150 people on every boat, we have probably around 4,000 people riding the boats each day. Probably more, it’s a lot.”

Wagner said she was nervous at first doing this job and giving speeches to more than 100 strangers at once. Over time, she has become more comfortable in this job, which she said teaches her something new every day.

“I definitely do feel like a living piece of history for boat drivers because I get to hear a lot of the stories from the survivors that most people won’t get to hear,” Wagner said. “And then there are all the pictures people take of you. I’m probably in a million pictures I don’t even know about.”

Naval Today Staff , December 06, 2011; Image: navy