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Makeover takes flight

    Those attending yesterday's blessing ceremony threw model airplanes toward the Ford Island Control Tower to symbolize the start of its restoration. The project is spearheaded by the nearby Pacific Aviation Museum with the help of the Navy and Ford Island Properties, which has a lease on the land.
    A blessing ceremony yesterday marked the start of the restoration project for the Ford Island Control Tower, which is rapidly deteriorating.

Officials are hoping that a badly needed project to stabilize and restore one of the enduring symbols of World War II can be completed in time for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor this Dec. 7.

A blessing was held yesterday for the Ford Island Control Tower restabilization project being spearheaded by the nearby Pacific Aviation Museum with the help of the Navy and Ford Island Properties, which has a lease on the land.

Clint Churchill, museum president, said the project was supposed to be done much later, but the rapidly deteriorating condition of the tower, built in early 1941, made it clear it had to take priority.

Eventually, museum officials want the public to be able to climb or ride the elevator to the top of the 158-foot tower that stood guard over Ford Island on the day of the attack.

Kenneth DeHoff, museum director, said the hope is that the exterior will be completed by Dec. 7. A second phase will include administrative offices and the museum’s archives.

Estimated cost of the project is $7.5 million, $3.8 million of which is coming from Department of Defense appropriations. The rest of the money will have to come from donations, museum officials said.

Jay Dunn, a former Marine who volunteers at the museum, said the tower has always stood as the focal point of Ford Island.

Featured in the movies "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Pearl Harbor," the tower is also on at least one of the museum’s logos.

The structure served a dual purpose as a water tower for Ford Island and a control tower, DeHoff said.

While the tower was camouflage green during most of the war, it will get a fresh coat of the white-and-red color scheme of more recent years.

"By this time next year, it will be a shiny new tower," DeHoff said.

The project is being undertaken by Kiewit Pacific, which also was the contractor for the museum’s first phase in 2006.


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