Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Veterans remember Pearl Harbor

I doubt that there is anyone in my generation who wouldn’t remember Pearl Harbor.”

From George Small, Army veteran in WWII:

”We had lived through our teenage years in the late thirties which was a simply marvelous time. The country was emerging from the Great Depression and was peaceful and prosperous. We had no TV to dump all of the world’s problems into our laps every night … only a little fifteen minute newscast on the radio, so all the troubles in Europe seemed very far away. It was the swing era and the music was wonderful … and then there were football games and high school proms, the small burning leaves on those wonderful fall days, and Saturday nights spent in one of those little bistros along the Pompton Turnpike where a nickle in the juke box bought you the sounds of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey, and we could dance check to cheek (not the jitterbug!). It was a wonderful romantic era and we thought it would never end … and then suddenly it did, and by December 8, we knew that the time was over and the world would never be the same again. We stood around in a stare of shock, realizing our lives were about to take a direction we hadn’t planned or even imagined. At that time I don’t recall much patriotic fervor (that came later) only apprehension … possibly a moment of truth as I look back and realize there were many of us there that day who would not live to graduate (from college).”

George is married to NYT's bestselling author Bertrice Small

From Eileen Nauman, romance author and Navy vet:

My mother, Ruth Cramer-Zimmerman, was married to Jack Zimmerman, pharmacist mate 1st class, USN. She worked on Ford Island as a secretary/civilian. Jack was assigned to USN but not on a ship. They both experienced Pearl Harbor. They lived in base housing above Pearl Harbor. When the attack hit, my mother said Japanese planes were flying right over the base housing. They took for cover and she said that there was a bullet hole through their bedroom. Luckily, neither she nor Jack were harmed. When I asked her what it was like, she said two days after the attack, she had to take a boat across the area to Ford Island to work. The odors were awful and she became very grim and couldn't say much more. She remained on Ford Island and eventually, all civilian wives of USN personnel stationed in Hawaii were sent home via the SS Lurline (Matson lines). It was one of the fastest luxury ships afloat at that time.

My mother lived in a historic time period. My father served with honor in the USN. And my mother was there to help the war effort shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. The photo I'm sending you is of my mother/father in front of the base housing where they lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, December, 1941 days before the attack.

From Annie Marshall, Army vet and Army spouse.   Her family has a rich history of military service, including Felix Marshall, survivor of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and Peter B. Marshall, survivor of Japanese POW Camp.
Felix Marshall
Pearl Harbor survivor

Peter B. Marshall after his
return from Japanese POW Camp.
and other family members ...
... gotta love a man (and woman) in uniform!

Margaret Mallory shares the story of her father's service, "Norman J. Brown joined the Army Air Corps when he turned 18 in 1943. As a member of the 69th Depot Repair Squadron, 301st Air Depot Group, Norman drove a truck in a convoy over the Burma-Leda Road into China. His unit was disbanded at the end of the war and he was reassigned to the 1363 Military Policy Company in Shanghai, waiting to return home.  

Norman used his GI Bill to attend college – a prospect that he had not considered as a farm boy before the war. The military also whet his appetite for travel – he ultimately took his family to West Africa when he worked for USAID. Several years ago, he returned to China with his wife."

Norman proudly wore his WWII army uniform for Veterans' Day!

Pamela Clare shares about the loss to her family, "His name was Joe Connor, Uncle Joe to my mother. He'd just gotten married and had been away on leave the week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor for his honeymoon. As you probably know, the Utah, where he was stationed, was a training vessel and wasn't even with the other ships. So he was new to the Navy, too. From what I was able to glean from talking with survivors of the Utah, he was probably stationed down in the boiler room, where, as I understand it, men sacrificed their lives, trying to keep the boiler from blowing so that others could get off the ship. He had one week of marriage, and then he was dead."

The USS Utah was moored on the west side of Ford Island.  Since Ford Island is not open to the public, few tourists visit the site (but a tour bus visits the USS Missouri on the east side).   The USS Utah is often called "the forgotten memorial" but I always take visitors to see it the ship as is lays on its side in eternal rest.

Mahalo to the veterans and authors who contributed to today's post.  We salute your family's service.  I invite our readers to comment about the veterans in your family.

Kim in Hawaii 

My husband's great uncle, Daniel Householder, served in WWII:


  1. Kim, thank you for doing this. We live in a time when most of those who were AT Pearl Harbor have passed on. What they saw, what they survived was forever etched in their minds and hearts. A salute to all vets of World War 2, especially those who stood the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Day of Infamy, a shot heard 'round the world. Warmly, Eileen Nauman aka Lindsay McKenna

  2. Kim, on this solemn day as we remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my sincere thanks for this tribute to those who sacrificed it all for our freedom. As we know, freedom truly isn't free. God bless our men and whom who have served and who serve today.

    Diana Cosby, AGC(AW), USN Ret.

  3. Kim - my first thought when I woke up this morning is that it was Pearl Harbor Day. I thought of the shock those soldiers must have gone through, and then the shock of the citizens of the United States as they were plunged into war. I can't imagine what it was like, but as a dedicated black and white movie buff, the 1940's movies depicting the brave soldiers, their brave wives and sweethearts, were always my favorite. God bless them all. And thank you for this wonderful article!

  4. It is a honor to read the stories of the men and women who served so proudly. They gave their best. When I was in Hawaii this summer and walked around punch bowl, seeing the graves of our military, I was humbled. We all owe them our thanks. They didn't shrink at the face of evil.

  5. Shows how old I am. My first memory is of Pearl Harbor. We lived up in Nuuanu Valley in Honolulu, and my mother's parents had arrived for a vacation just two days before. That Sunday morning, my grandfather walked out and asked my mother about the smoke rising over Punchbowl (now a military cemetery). She told him it was target practice, then commented, "But you don't often see black smoke!"

    I was a baby, less than two years old, and all I remember is standing at the front door with my arms around my mother's legs as she watched my father drive off to see if his office building in Honolulu was still intact. (By that time they had been told Pearl Harbor had been attacked.) I can still see the bright light in the front yard and my father's car pulling out, and the dim room behind us -- with one of those old cabinet radios in the corner.

    My mother said it didn't hit her until that evening when they took a drive around to see what there was to see, and they passed a funeral home with a flatbed truck loaded with body bags in the driveway. My grandparents were evacuated the next week. We stayed there almost throughout the war. Early in 1945 my grandmother was ill, and my mother, my baby sister, and I managed to get accommodations on a hospital convoy to return to the mainland. The war ended before we returned to Hawaii.

  6. I remember visiting the Arizona Memorial while I was in Hawaii. Although my family members survived, I still couldn't help but shed a few tears for those who didn't make it home.

    Thank you so very much Kim for doing such a lovely tribute.

    Love to all!

  7. Great post, Kim, on a sobering day in history. Thanks.

  8. I'm honored to hear the stories of these heroes.

  9. I am humbled by these stories of great courage and sacrifice.
    Both my parents served in the British Army as did my Mothers brothers, I loved to hear my uncle talk of his time during the war being so young at the time I thought it was great fun.
    Today I know differently. I DO know I am Proud of Every Man & woman who serves our Country's to the fullest.
    God bless

  10. I think it is important that we hear these WWII stories and get them written down so they aren't lost. Thanks so much for including my personal hero--my dad.

    I LOVE all the old pictures you posted of these servicemen in uniform.


  11. Thank you to all who served then and now. My dad was in the Navy, my uncle his brother and my uncle my aunt's husband were in the Navy as well. My uncle my mother's brother served in the Air Force, my husband served in the Army and retired, I did three years during our almost 40 years of marriage. He served a year in Vietnam. Now I have a nephew serving in the Army, his dad did 20 and retired was in Desert Storm. Robert has been to Iraq 3 times. Also we have another nephew heading back to Afghanistan after being home on emergency leave this spring to bury his father and more recently R&R. Wow a lot of military to include a cousin who retired from the Marines. That covers every branch but teh Coast Guard lol.

  12. My niece just mentioned both of her parents were in the Army and her sister was in the Navy.

  13. Thank you, Kim, for helping us all to remember the very real flesh-and-blood sacrifices of these men and women.

  14. Once again I thank you, Kim for your unwavering support for our military. It's a heavy load we ask people to bear during wartime. Unfortunately, we seem to be enmeshed in a war during most generations. I have uncles who served in WWII. My guy and many friends served in the Korean war, and so many veterans are still living the anguish of Viet Nam. I pray every day for Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom military, serving and home to stay. God bless America