TJC group visits U.S. troops in Hawaii, rides out tsunami scare

Mar 23, 2011 by

What happens when 126 Tyler Junior College Apache Belles, Apache Band members, alumni, parents, faculty and staff take a Spring Break trip to Hawaii?

Quite a lot, actually.

The TJC travelers began their week with a visit to Pearl Harbor, paying their respects at the USS Arizona Memorial, where 1,177 servicemen lost their lives in the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, and World War II began for the United States.

Following an emotional tour of the Arizona, the group crossed the harbor bridge to the USS Missouri, nicknamed the Mighty Mo, where the Japanese ultimately signed the instrument of formal surrender to the Allied Forces and brought the war to an end on Sept. 2, 1945. The battleship was docked in Tokyo Bay at the time. Upon being decommissioned after the first Gulf War, the Missouri was placed in Pearl Harbor where it now has a permanent home as a museum.

Apache Belles pose with a Navy captain at the Pearl Harbor memorial

The Apache Belles brought their famous high-kick routines and a dose of Texas hospitality to an appreciative crowd on the deck of the USS Missouri. Later in the week, the Belles spent a day and performed with children of service members on the Kaneohe Bay Marine Base.

Throughout the week, TJC group members soaked up as much island atmosphere as possible, catching rays on Waikiki Beach, checking out the big waves on the North Shore, and trying everything from snorkeling and surfing to parasailing and glider planes – and eating mass quantities of fresh pineapple.

The travelers spent their last day of the trip at the Polynesian Cultural Center, where they experienced an evening luau and an extravaganza of native music, dance, drums, special effects and a fire-spewing volcano.

During the bus ride back to the hotel, the group learned Hawaii had been placed under a tsunami warning due to a massive earthquake that rocked Japan hours earlier. Oahu’s warning protocol was put into action, the city of Honolulu was placed on high alert, the streets were evacuated and hotel guests were sent to their rooms to wait out the storm.

Luckily, the tsunami passed through the islands with minimal damage, no airport delays occurred, and the TJC travelers returned to Texas on time and very grateful for a safe and memorable trip they will never forget.



Features, Spring 2011

About the author

Elise Mullinix is Tyler Junior College's Editorial Manager. She can be reached at 903-510-2370 or at