Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pearl Harbor 2009

US Army: 218 KIA, 364 WIA.
US Navy: 2,008 KIA, 710 WIA.
US MarineCorp: 109 KIA, 69 WIA.
Civilians: 68 KIA, 35 WIA.

TOTAL: 2,403 KIA, 1,178 WIA.

USS Arizona (BB-39) - total loss when a bomb hit her magazine.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) - Total loss when she capsized and sunk in the harbor.
USS California (BB-4 4) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Sunk at her berth. Later raised and repaired.
USS Nevada - (BB-36) Beached to prevent sinking. Later repaired.
USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) - Light damage.
USS Maryland (BB-46) - Light damage.
USS Tennessee (BB-43) Light damage.
USS Utah (AG-16) - (former battleship used as a target) - Sunk.
USS New Orleans (CA-32) - Light Damage..
USS San Francisco (CA-38) - Light Damage.
USS Detroit (CL-8) - Light Damage.
USS Raleigh (CL-7) - Heavily damaged but repaired.
USS Helena (CL-50) - Light Damage.
USS Honolulu (CL-48) - Light Damage..
-------------------------- -- ---------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------
USS Downes (DD-375) - Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Cassin - (DD -3 7 2) Destroyed. Parts salvaged.
USS Shaw (DD-373) - Very heavy damage.
USS Helm (DD-388) - Light Damage.
USS Ogala (CM-4) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.
Seaplane Tender
USS Curtiss (AV-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.
Repair Ship
USS Vestal (AR-4) - Severely damaged but later repaired.
Harbor Tug
USS Sotoyomo (YT-9) - Sunk but later raised and repaired.
188 Aircraft destroyed (92 USN and 92 U.S. Army Air Corps.)

Growing up in a military family, I absorbed more than my fair share of military history. From watching Tora, Tora, Tora, to climbing into old bombers at air shows, my father exposed my sister and me to our nation’s greatest generation: the victories, their losses, their glories, their mourning.

When in Hawai’i in 2007, I flew from Kona to Honolulu one day. I visited Pearl Harbor and paid my respects at those hallowed grounds. There is a timed entry to the Memorial, which starts with a 20+ minute video. As I took my theater seat among the tourists, a Naval officer greeted us and in no uncertain terms told us civilians to sit down, shut up, keep your kids quiet, turn off your cell phones, don’t speak at the Memorial, you are on hallowed grounds so don’t disrespect the graves upon which you are walking, and enjoy the film, narrated by Stockard Channing, God Bless America.

As I snorted underneath my breath, the now-bug-eyed civilians around me were laying golden eggs in their seats. The lights dimmed as his white uniform faded into the back of the theater, and the film capturing the horror of that Sunday morning began. Being the patriotic sort, tears poured from my eyes as the film ended. The theater doors open and lead visitors to the sunshine and the ferry that takes us to USS Arizona’s resting spot. Being by myself and not being shy, I chatted up the Navy driver as we made waves past the USS Nevada and onto USS Arizona. I learned a lot that day, reflected on how lucky I am, and thanked my father for the education he had given me so that I could appreciate where I stood that sunny afternoon.

Fast forward two years later. Brad and I grabbed our timed tickets and toured the nearby museums while waiting our turn. That day, the museum featured three survivors signing books; the line was forever long, so we just tipped our heads in their direction and received the same salutation in return.

I love watching Brad. His tall frame towering over the Asian tourists crowding the placards was an amusement; but moreover, his intent reading of the recounts along battleship row, the catastrophic losses of aircraft at Hickam AFB, and the heroic and valiant efforts of many service members and civilians taken by surprise on a lazy Sunday morning.

The National Park Service ranger gave our pre-movie chat—much to my dismay (I had been hoping for another sit down and shut up speech; NPS has a somewhat lighter version.). Our transit over to the Memorial was without incident and was timed well enough for me to tell Brad about the wall of names. In addition to the names of Navy shipmates and Marines lost aboard USS Arizona, there are two small stones in front of the wall. The stone on the left has names dating back to the 1930s and many in the recent years: 2006, 07, 08. These names belong to those surviving shipmates who decide to be entombed with their lost shipmates. To do so, they are cremated, and a special diver goes down one of the turrets in which they have erected a small mausoleum. As many of our greatest generation pass, more names fill the marble slab. Struck by the complexity and, truthfully, creepiness of this ceremony, Brad wondered aloud who could be assigned to this. I answered with an assumption that a special honor-guard like position, similar to our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is designated for such.

As we walked through the entry way, I pointed to the state flags on the right, for which each of the battleships were named: California, Utah, Arizona, etc. On the left, Brad pointed to the USCG flag hung among the other services’ flags. Quietly and holding hands, we moved through the crowds and headed straight for the wall on the far side of the white memorial. Visitors had left leis on the white marble, and some honored the dead by placing them in the oil slick in the water. Sooner than I expected, we heard a boat motor, and I caught a glimpse of white uniforms on an absolutely gorgeous Criss Craft whose name was, CINCPACFLT—Commander in Charge of Pacific Fleet. Later, we learned that his entourage and special guests were in town for the Submarine Ball, which was hosted at our hotel. As the naval officers joined us in the Memorial, true to their stereotype, Asian tourists started to take their pictures and civilians stood in awe of their mere presence. Un-phased, Brad and I chuckled (quietly), as the docked boat and passenger ferry played a water-based Chinese fire drill to moor up on the single dock servicing the Memorial. We queued up and boarded the last row of the ferry. I smiled and hugged my Coastie as we drove back to the complex, thankful for his service and his physical presence beside me.

1 comment:

TetVet68 said...

Remember Pearl Harbor -- Keep America Alert!

America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 100th year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

'Navy Centenarian Sailor', 103 year old, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio 'Jay' Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat Radioman/Gunner (1920s/1930s) in the tactical air squadrons of the Navy's first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

Visit my photo album tribute to these veteran shipmates:

San Diego, California