Henry Kaleialoha Allen spent several hours last month playing his guitar and singing for the residents of the Walter Reed Convalescent Center outside Washington, D.C.
This is the third year that the Maui commissioner on Culture and Arts volunteered to serenade the veterans as they ate their meals at the facility's picnic. He was accompanied by three hula dancers, including his son, Paki, on Aug. 17.
"Henry has brought tears to the eyes of the veterans," said Sherron Allen, the musician's wife, who joined him for the visit. "So many of the men are Pearl Harbor survivors and choose to live out their lives with like veterans."
Pearl Harbor survivor Dallas Jones (second from left), 92, poses with Paki Allen (from left), Nicole Chapelle, Walter Reed Army Medical Center picnic coordinator, and Henry Allen. The Allens performed at a picnic for veterans at the Walter Reed Convalescent Center near Washington, D.C., last month. Henry Allen played guitar and sang Hawaiian songs while his son, Paki, danced the hula for the veterans at the facility.
Allen's music brought back memories for the veterans, some who are survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,1941, and others who did tours in the islands, she said. Her husband played songs like "Tiny Bubbles," "Blue Hawaii" and "The Hukilau Song," music not heard on radio stations in the area, for three hours for the 200 veterans, who were served and at their meals.
The group met six survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack. Among them was Dallas Jones, 92, a survivor of the USS Arizona. He lost most of his buddies at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese surprise attack.
Every five years, the government flies him back to Hawaii for the USS Arizona Memorial services, Mrs. Allen said.
"It's very emotional," she said.
Her husband saw the ships ablaze and the bombs going off that day from Red Hill. Eight or 9 years old at the time, he recalled spending the night in a tunnel for safety.
Mrs. Allen said they flew in orchids for the day and made lei for the veterans.
Allen went to Maryland to help his son and his Hawaiian Entertainment & Catering business. In July and August, they entertained and catered events at Andrews Air Force Base, Homeland Security and the Virginia National Guard.
They also volunteered their services at events such as the one at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said Mrs. Allen.