JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — President Donald Trump arrived in Hawaii on Friday and immediately paid a solemn visit to Pearl Harbor, his first ever.
Trump saluted after entering the memorial to the USS Arizona following a short boat ride with first lady Melania Trump. The couple brought a wreath of white flowers and watched as two sailors placed it near a wall of names of the fallen.
Pearl Harbor was the scene of a surprise attack by Japan that plunged the U.S. into World War II, killing hundreds of service members.
After the wreath was placed, the Trumps tossed white flower petals into the waters above the battleship’s sunken hull.
Trump did not speak publicly at the memorial, but during an earlier meeting Friday with military officials, he expressed how much he was looking forward to the visit.
“We are going to visit very shortly, Pearl Harbor, which I’ve read about, spoken about, heard about, studied, but I haven’t seen. And that is going to be very exciting for me,” Trump said at the start of a briefing with leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the region.
The first couple arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Friday after a daylong flight from Washington. They depart Saturday for Japan, the first stop on the five-nation, 11-day journey that will also take the President to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
White House chief of staff John Kelly joined the Trumps, to the delight of many in the crowd that greeted them in Hawaii.
“We love you Gen. Kelly,” one person shouted at the retired four-star Marine general who stood several feet behind the president.
Trump was briefed by leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command. The growing threat from North Korea — a crisis that will shadow the entire trip — was expected to be among the topics discussed. Trump was also meeting with the governors of Alaska, Hawaii and Pacific U.S. territories, all potential targets of any successful attempt by North Korea to strike the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile.
The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor marks the final resting place of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines who were killed on the battleship during the surprise Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Accessible only by boat, the memorial straddles the ship’s sunken hull.
A total of more than 2,300 sailors, soldiers and Marines died as a result of the attack, as well as 68 civilians, according to the National Park Service.