This was suppose to be the speech that I was going to give at the Unit Ball tomorrow. My original plan was to have it videoed so everyone of you can hear how awful I sound in person. But long story short, is that I will have a speaking role and my speech was voted of the island for a altered version. But I wanted to offer something now since there is a very good chance that I will not have time to post tomorrow. Also that this is the only way that my speech will see the light of day outside a few people in my unit. Oh and I take full credit for any and all grammatical mistakes found.
That was the message that was received on this the seventy first anniversary of the day of infamy. On this day the Naval base of Pearl Harbor and other military facilities on the territory of Hawaii were attacked by an aviation strike force of Imperial Navy of Japan. In less than six hours the Island of Hawaii was hit by a coordinated attack of over three hundred Dive bombers, Torpedo bombers and escorting fighters. The attack crippled or sank the majority of the warships moored at Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona and the USS Oklahoma sustained the heaviest losses of the twenty four hundred that perished in the attack. Many of you may have seen these images. The photo of the explosion of the main powder magazine of the USS Arizona. The image of the USS Oklahoma capsized among the flaming wreckage that used to be battleship row. The attack gave us bitter suffering and loss. It also gave us heroes to light this dark hour. Heroes such as such as Doris Miller, John William Finn and many others whose actions saved many more lives that day. Perhaps the bravest of that day were the group of three survivors who were trapped in a water tight compartment of the USS West Virginia during the attack. The Sailors survived by living off of emergency rations, flash lights, and any freshwater that could be found in the compartment. After sixteen days trapped in the sealed compartment, the three Sailors died from suffocation due to the depletion of the remaining oxygen. Their bodies were recovered by salvage crews months later. The room was littered with spent batteries and ration cans. There was also a calendar with red Xs marking of the days with the last one being December 23rd 1941. Their names were Clifford Olds age twenty, Ronald Endicott age eighteen, and Louis “Buddy” Costin age twenty one. On that infamous day, importantly not all was lost. The vital fuel and dry docks remained largely undamaged. These facilities allowed the Pacific fleet to restore damaged warships to fighting condition. Second, even more important, was that the Japanese Navy failed to destroy the Pacific Carrier Fleet. US carriers USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown would would later play lead roles at the battle of Midway the naval battle that decisively and irreversibly changed the tide of war in the Pacific in favor of the United States and Allies. Now as the 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor comes to a close, will everyone please rise and offer a moment of silence in remembrance of the fallen and the survivors who are no longer with us today.
The brief description about the fate these three that were trapped in the West Virgina can be found here. It is a short but hard at times to read about the aftermath of the attacks. But also it has a rare view of America before the winds of war blew in.
Jack Miller and his shipmate, Clifford Olds joined fellow sailor Frank Kosa for a night at the “Monkey Bar”. It was December 6, 1941 in Pearl City, Oahu, and Miller and Olds were on liberty from the USS West Virginia. A barmaid snapped their picture and offered it for sale. “What a scam” they thought-keep it. Within 10 hours, this photo was to be the last reminder of peace and the terrifying beginning of Clifford Olds demise.
Jack Miller volunteered aboard the USS Lexington and was at sea for two weeks following the attack, looking for the Japanese fleet. When he returned to Hawaii, he made a bee-line for the “Monkey Bar” and located the girl who had snapped their photo “light years” before. She found the negative and gave it to him for free out of respect. This photograph shows from left to right: Jack Miller, Frank Kosa and Clifford Olds-Camel cigarette dangling from his care-free fingers. Shipmates, and our Country are represented in this amazing picture of the last hours of peace.
Anyways I should have some photo of me and my better half dressed up from the ball later for a healthy dose of ego inflated narcissism. Oh and just to make it interesting to day, lets play a game of “lets see how many people know why we remember what happened on this date in 1941 without hints or google”. Let me know how it goes.