AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Sixty-nine years ago those words ushered in a period of unbelievable agony, trial, effort and sacrifice. What was once before was forever changed afterward. Jack-booted thugs bent on their “Final Solution” strode cobblestone streets of the land distantly remembered as the forebear of a new nation, a New World. And across the broad expanse of the ocean called “peaceful” – because it’s discoverer found such contrast to the stormy passage he had recently survived, rampant nationalism was advancing at the tip of bayonet and crushing naval power.

The warnings were there – it’s just that being so far away; over the horizon in distance and mind, that what happened in the dim, exotic lands of East Asia just didn’t map to the concerns of Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street, or 5th and Main. The Old World was in flame yet again, though by now it was beginning to appear that once more, the oceans would serve as a guardian to keep the Ancient Evil – Over There and our boys home, over here. No more Beallau Woods, no more Marnes — no more Flanders. The plucky occupants of a small island off the coast of that continent – protected again by the seas, had apparently staved off the onslaught of the German air force, which washed across the Channel and appeared to break on the rocks of “the Few” who rose in their isle’s defense. Cause for muted celebration – but not really of our concern. And now that industrial war machine had turned its attentions to the riches of the Eurasian heartland and engaged in battle with yet another statist foe. Fascist against Communist, German against Russian; West vs Oest /Восток против Запада. Let them slug it out and bleed each other white – not our concern. Let the Old World and the Far East dissolve in flame and fury – we have our own problems and the great distances of the oceans to protect us…

Sixty-nine years ago a lesson was seared in a generation’s conscious and would underpin the awakening of a giant, heretofore unseen or much thought of.

A slogan was born and a promise made.

For the better part of the remaining century that followed, as plans were drawn, metal cut and bodies counted; that phrase lay, oft time unspoken, deep within the hearts and minds of men as they prepared for a war they hoped and prayed would never come.

It didn’t – and now, the problems at home seem so overwhelming. An economy that can’t seem to pick itself off the deck. A work force embraced by hopelessness of ever finding a job in a land of plenty. And across the broad oceans, beyond the visible horizon old forces are stirring once again in different lands. Scores to be settled – philosophies to be paid homage; resources to be gathered and sent homeward.

And a promise which rang with clarity across a land and through generations is but a fading whisper upon the ear.

Remember Pearl Harbor.




Posted by SteelJaw in History, Navy
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  • Paul Withington

    Stories from my youth …

    My father and parents all lived in Manoa Valley, some ten miles from Pearl Harbor.

    My grandfather, a local physician and WWI Army field doctor, was one of the first civilian doctors on scene. He ended the war as the commodore in command of all of the Navy’s medical facilities in Hawaii.

    Shortly before the attack my father learned he would get a commission in the Navy Reserve, so a few hours after the attack he got a call instructing him to report to Pearl Harbor immediately. He was “commissioned” a “civilian ensign” that afternoon. Despite no formal training he finished the war as CO USS Chalcedony (PYc16), a luxury yacht that had been converted to a weather tracking ship.

    He was the ship’s Ops O when the ship’s BMC recovered a torpedo that was fired at the underwater cliffs of Kaho’olawe as part of the investigation into the reported problems with the Navy’s torpedoes. When the BURORD experts opened up the torpedo they discovered a faulty trigger design.

    The Navy divers couldn’t find it, so the Chalcedony’s CO turned to BMC John Kelly and asked him if he could find it. John kicked off his sandals and threw off his straw hat (the ship’s uniform standards were very lax – shirts were optional as well) and dove into the water from the flying bridge. Many minutes later, he popped up to ask for a rope to attach to the torpedo.

    Kelly had to repeat this effort when the line parted as the salvage ship was raising the torpedo.

    VADM Lockwood, who watch all this from the Chalcedony’s bridge, awarded Kelly the Navy Cross.

    A good read, Iron Men and Tin Fish, covers the history of these torpedoes.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Last night, I was asked to say a few words to commemorate Pearl Harbor, and proposed a toast.

    Afterward, one of our Legion members, aged 92, told us of how his group was training at Lake Charles, LA in late-1940, and half of them were designated to go to the Philippines. He had been the first guy in the next line, picked to stay and train stateside.

    His eyes, normally sparkling even at 92, grew sad, and he looked down at the floor. Then, he said softly “That could have been me at Bataan. I wouldn’t be here. Those poor souls.”

    Thanks, Salamander. Very soon, it will be up to us exclusively to remember Pearl Harbor.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Remember Pearl Harbor…’lest we forget, how came we here.

  • Dave Carson

    Which battleship is that in the painting?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    The battleship berthed at F7 at Ford Island on the morning of 7 December 1941 was USS Arizona (BB-39).

  • Dave Carson

    Thanks.

  • http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org Pearl Harbor

    Yeah, that’s a great illustration of the USS Arizona. I’ve been searching for something similar for the USS Missouri.

    70 years is upon us …

  • http://Www.Explaininghistory.com Nick

    Hi there, my name is Nick and I am a UK based historian and teacher. I am currently trying to write a history of the 20th Century for Kindle in 100 parts and have just completed the diplomatic history of the years before Pearl Harbour in a book called Red Sun Rising.

    My next venture is the early stages of the Pacific War and I am starting with the attack on Pearl Harbour. I am interested in any primary source material, particularly testimonies and memories from witnesses. If anyone can help I would be very grateful.

    Thanks

    Nick Shepley

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