Quarantined in a hotel like professional athletes, Diamond Point’s John Johnson and Dave Richardson 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, Aug. 3 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 historical 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 for COVID-19.
Johnson’s plane was loaded aboard the ship on July 25 with several other historic airplanes; however, some pilots dropped out because of concerns regarding the 2019 novel 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 everyday.
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,” said Richardson 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.