SAN DIEGO — Quarantined in a hotel in San Diego, Calif., John Johnson and Dave Richardson of Diamond Point await the go-ahead for their adventure west with the crew of the USS Essex.
The naval ship is tentatively set to embark on Monday to Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary of the end of war in the Pacific and World War II.
Johnson and Richardson will fly Johnson’s T-6 Texan with several other historic warbirds from the era for festivities Aug. 29-Sept. 2, including a Legacy of Peace Aerial Parade over the Pearl Harbor Memorial/Battleship Missouri Memorial.
The friends flew to San Diego on July 14 and have been in quarantine, awaiting an all-clear to protect against COVID-19.
Johnson’s plane was loaded aboard the ship on Saturday with several other historic airplanes; however, some pilots dropped out because of concerns regarding the coronavirus.
Hawaii’s leaders issued a mandatory 14-day quarantine earlier this month for all passengers to and from the state on or before Aug. 31.
Richardson said they’ve been quarantined in a hotel next to the Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, but they are able to walk alone on the nearby beach with food brought to their door every day.
They’ve also been able to spend some time on plane maintenance prior to it going aboard the Essex, he said.
“We’re doing well. We still like each other,” Richardson said in a phone interview. “The (COVID-19 test) determines if we’re released to the ship or back to quarantine. If cleared, then we can move around on the ship.”
The friends also were tracking Hurricane Douglas, which came within 25 miles of Oahu.
“We’re really happy the hurricane is ahead of us and not behind us,” Richardson said.
To continue with the trip despite possible obstacles holds special meaning to the friends as they’re both veterans and longtime pilots.
Johnson is a retired FedEx pilot and U.S. Army Green Beret veteran, and Richardson is a retired California Department of Transportation employee and U.S. Air Force veteran.
“This is important,” Richardson said in a previous interview. “We could potentially be speaking a different language if we lost World War II.”
For more information about the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, visit www.75thwwiicommemoration.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].