The Sounds Of Freedom At K-Bay

As a Kaneohe resident for many years, I have some thoughts on community complaints about aircraft noise at Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay. As reported by the Star-Advertiser, the area’s state Senator and Representatives have passed along these complaints to our Congressional delegation in D.C., asking for an investigation.

I understand. I hear the throaty roar of C-17 Globemasters as they power down the runway. I hear the high-pitched scream of F-18 Hornet fighter jets. I hear the drone of P-3 Orion submarine hunters. I hear the whumpa-thumpa of big helicopter rotors. They are loud.

I call them the Sounds of Freedom, and feel lucky to hear them and to see these magnificent machines on their graceful approaches to the landing field.

Though not based at Kaneohe, aircraft such as F-22 Raptor fighter jets sometimes practice touch-and-goes at the air field. Christine Cabalo / Hawaii Marine photo.

Some Kaneohe residents quoted by the S-A said sometimes the aircraft sounds drown out their TVs. I understand. Sometimes a truck or motorcycle going up my street drowns out the TV, as do fire truck and ambulance sirens speeding down Kaneohe Bay Drive.

I’m reminded of one of my journalism profs at the University of Oregon, who tried to shut down a Eugene stadium that hosted minor league baseball in the summer and high school football on autumn Friday nights, and who hated the attendant lights, traffic and noise. As I asked the prof, who was otherwise a smart man: Who was there first, you or the stadium? Well, uh, the stadium.

In this case, it’s the base. But it’s more than that.

So little has been asked of us Americans since our country went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, we’ve lost some personal rights at airports and in the government’s ability to secretly surveil phone calls and emails. But otherwise, most of us are untouched by what’s happening today in Afghanistan and before that in Iraq. On any given day you’d never know we’re at war.

It’s the least we can do to allow these young men and women to train in our neighborhoods.

The Sounds of Freedom at K-Bay are just a reminder our troops make far greater sacrifices on a daily basis than having to hit the reverse button on the DVR remote control to catch that Jeopardy answer you just missed: Alex, what is patriotism?

I can understand protests on Okinawa over a U.S. Marine air base there. But this is not Okinawa.

BTW: Am counting down the days until the Navy’s Blue Angels fly at Kaneohe Sept. 29-30. If it’s anything like last time they were here in 2010, those bad boys will be screaming just a couple hundred feet off the deck directly above my street, and my neighbors and I will be whooping and hollering as cool bolts of chickenskin shoot up our necks.