JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — Embarking on his first official tour of Asia, President Donald Trump stopped first in Hawaii on Friday and said he eagerly anticipated a visit to Pearl Harbor, where thousands of service members paid the ultimate sacrifice following a surprise attack by Japan that plunged the U.S. into World War II.
"We are going to visit very shortly, Pearl Harbor, which I've read about, spoken about, heard about, studied, but I haven't seen. And that is going to be very exciting for me," Trump said at the start of a briefing with leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the region.
Trump arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam late Friday after a daylong flight from Washington. He departs Saturday for Japan, the first stop on the five-nation, 11-day Asia journey that will also take him to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The president quickly donned a lei after he left Air Force One with first lady Melania Trump, who also wore a wreath of flowers. He signed autographs and gave high-fives to kids who were among a group of civilians and service members that gathered for the arrival.
Trump wasn't the only attraction to arrive on base. A few in the crowd shouted for White House chief of staff John Kelly.
"We love you Gen. Kelly," one person shouted at the retired four-star Marine general who is among senior White House aides traveling with Trump.
Trump and the leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command were expected to discuss the growing threat from North Korea, a crisis that will shadow the entire trip. He'll also meet with the governors of Alaska, Hawaii and Pacific U.S. territories — all potential targets of any successful attempt by North Korea to strike the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile.
Trump will also tour the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which marks the resting place of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines who were killed on the battle ship during the Japanese surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Accessible only by boat, the memorial straddles the battleship's sunken hull.
More than 2,300 sailors, soldiers and Marines died as a result of the attack, as well as 68 civilians, according to the National Park Service.