HONOLULU — Most Americans have heard of the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Some are also aware of the air base next door called Hickam, where Japanese planes destroyed U.S. bombers during the 1941 aerial attack.
Today, the two historic sites will cease to be separate bases, merging into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. They will be among 26 installations across the country that are combining to form 12 joint bases as the military strives to become more efficient.
Pearl Harbor and Hickam have been close but distant neighbors for decades. They're right next to each other on the southern edge of Oahu, but each has its own schools, golf courses, bowling alleys, churches and other facilities.
The bases encompass multiple historic landmarks.
There's the old barrack at Hickam that still displays holes from machine gun bullets Japanese airmen fired during the attack. The building now houses the Air Force's headquarters for the Pacific region. It's not far from a distinctive water storage tower, called the Freedom Tower, that Japanese pilots avoided shooting at because they thought it was a religious shrine.
In Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona and the remains of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines lie where the battleship sank on Dec. 7, 1941.
The decision to join the two bases dates to 2005, when an independent panel on military bases recommended they merge. The commission recommended similar unions across the country to save money and create a more efficient military.