December 7th

004 December 7th

We always remember Pearl Harbor at our house. That’s my wife’s dad in that pic, pipe-pointing to his battle station 75 mornings ago today, Sunday December 7th, 1941 on the U.S.S. Arizona (BB39), in the aft tower, or “mainmast”. If you’ve ever been to the National Park Service’s excellent memorial, it’d be right about where the American flag flies now.

The bottom of the #3 gun turret is the only part of the Arizona above water. The Memorial structure spans the hull, what's left points to Port, or your left.  (Photo by Ronen Zilberman/Getty Images)

The bottom of the #3 gun turret is the only part of the Arizona above water today. The Memorial structure spans the hull. The bow would be to port, or your left, at the end of it is the mooring quey of the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship the Japanese surrendered on board in Tokyo Bay (Photo by Ronen Zilberman/Getty Images)

His job up there was to strap on a sound-powered headset, grab some binoculars, and spot where the shells from the big guns went. Of course they weren’t firing the big guns that day, because the Japanese were using airplanes and they didn’t want to shell Honolulu and Waikiki. When a Japanese bomb pierced the deck and exploded in a powder magazine, the front 2/3 of the ship was completely obliterated. Being a newly-trained Navy Boot, he carefully folded his socks and lined his shoes up neatly before abandoning ship as ordered to swim under the burning oil to safety. It was two days before they allowed survivors to mail the cryptic card in the pic below, some families didn’t find out what had happened to their sailors and marines for months. Every Dec. 7th we think of how lucky we were that he was lucky, and of the 1,117 of his shipmates who didn’t make it that day.

005 December 7th

335 Sailors and Marines survived the attack 75 years ago today, including about 40 who had a lucky excuse to be off the ship. Oree Weller left us in ’93 after a long career in the postwar Navy and then Boeing, you can read his Peal Harbor story here. As of this writing, there are 5 Arizona crewmen still with us, but all are too old now to make the trip to Hawaii for today’s ceremonies.

More from Scott Vanderpool
Comments

One Comment

  1. Jen says:

    Yes we all are lucky! Great Dec, 7th posting Scott!
    I’ve never seen that form letter before!

  2. Tracey says:

    nice write up Scott. Dad would have loved that!

  3. noshowclc says:

    My uncle’s wife’s brother rests on the Arizona to this day. Every year on this day I think of that sacrifice, and that of all the others. Though few Veterans from that era are still with us 69 years later, we can never forget what happened there…ever. The freedom I have to simply leave this posting springs from their sacrifice.

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