Honoring Veterans of Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941
By Dell Hill
to the good Lord’s planning, I can’t pass along personal memories from
the events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor some 70 years ago. I
wasn’t born until 1945. But, I can make sure that at least one personal
memory doesn’t go undocumented.
Here, from The Library of Congress, is a complete and accurate report.
“On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory,
killing more than 2,300 Americans. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely
destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships
sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were
damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others
Read the entire report and avail yourself of the information available at this link.
A Newsreel Report:
three of my brothers were called to serve in the military during World
War II and one of them - the oldest - was on board a troop ship anchored
at, or very near, Pearl Harbor on the “day that will live in infamy”.
He, like thousands of other soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, was a
part of a massive troop buildup in the South Pacific and Hawaii had
become a logical stopping off point for resupply and maintenance.
took many years for my brother to discuss what happened that day. I
now understand why. But, on the ONE occasion that he sat me down and
told his story, I was totally mesmerized. He made it abundantly clear
that he was “going to tell me this once and only once” and it wouldn’t
ever be discussed again. It was at that point I began to realize just
what kind of Hell war really is.
was early Sunday morning and he was asleep on the ship when the attack
began. When the alarm was sounded he reported for duty but there was
little or no duty to perform. Troop ships were usually converted ocean
liners and had few, if any, armaments to man. When sailing open waters,
their protection came from escorting naval vessels that were heavily
armed, as well as submarines and aircraft launched from aircraft
carriers. Being anchored left the ship a sitting duck for attack.
were hit and the ship was severely damaged. We knew it was going to
sink and the order was given to abandon ship. Many of us didn’t even
have time enough to put life jackets on before it (the ship) started to
roll,” he told me.
was getting as much of a running start as possible and jumping into the
water about 60 feet below. Just as I jumped, the ship rolled a little
further and instead of landing in the water, I landed on part of the
hull. I hit hard and remember the pain in my back and I must have hit
my head pretty hard because I slid into the water and don’t remember
anything after that until I came to on a beach.
soldier was next to me and he was yelling for a corpsman to help me.
That soldier saved my life by swimming with me from the ship to the
beach and I never could find out his name so I could thank him”.
know for a fact - because I helped him search for several years - that
my brother owed his life to that mystery soldier. For several years, he
spent money on ads in the various Veteran’s magazines attempting to
find that soldier, but never did.
being hospitalized with serious back injuries, my brother was
discharged from the Army and this once strong, athletic “kid” from
Barre, Vermont was now resigned to the fact that for the rest of his
life he would be restricted to work or physical activity that “didn’t
include anything too strenuous”. He found work locally driving a taxi
cab and spent the rest of his days doing so. To this day, he’s fondly
remembered by many of the elderly residents of his hometown, despite the
fact that he died many years ago.
other two brothers also served during the same war. One sustained
severe burns during basic training, when a vat of scalding hot water
tipped over and burned the back of both his legs. The other brother
served in Europe, but refused to ever discuss his military experiences
the eight children my parents raised, I’m the only one left. By
writing about these events, perhaps our posterity will have a better
understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices our Veterans and their
families have made.
December 7, 2011, I honor my brother who served his country and was a
serious injury victim at Pearl Harbor. RIP - Duane Orbert “Bud” Hill.