December 7, 2016

"Fewer than 200 survivors of the attacks... Hawaii are still alive."


It has been 75 years, but U.S. Navy veteran James Leavelle can still recall watching with horror as Japanese warplanes rained bombs down on his fellow sailors in the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War Two.

Bullets bounced off the steel deck of his own ship, the USS Whitney, anchored just outside Honolulu harbor, but a worse fate befell those aboard the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS Utah and others that capsized in an attack that killed 2,400 people.

"The way the Japanese planes were coming in, when they dropped bombs, they'd drop them and then circle back," said Leavelle, a 21-year-old Navy Storekeeper Second Class at the time of the attack.

Leavelle, now 96, was among 30 Pearl Harbor survivors honored at a reception in Los Angeles before heading to Honolulu to mark Wednesday's 75th anniversary of the attack.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time on Dec. 7, 1941, famously dubbed "a date which will live in infamy" by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Fewer than 200 survivors of the attacks there and on other military bases in Hawaii are still alive.

Pearl Harbor Hero Returns Home After 75 Years in an Unknown Grave "For decades their bones lay forgotten until a Pearl Harbor survivor uncovered their story."

My Sad Captains by Thom Gunn

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos. They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,
but now that they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 7, 2016 7:21 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Here's an essay on why Japan's losses at Pearl Harbor were more catastrophic than the United States'.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at December 7, 2016 8:52 AM

And meanwhile, in a last tantrum of disrespect, that little faggot Obama publicly kisses the ass of Shinzo Abe, unrepentant prime minister of Japan.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at December 7, 2016 11:09 AM

My husband's father was a Pearl Harbor. He was 19 and in the Army Air Corps. He had the day off and was headed to the mess hall. The barracks that he left blew up and he thought it was an old boiler that had exploded. Then he was straffed by a Japanese Zero, but managed to hide in a ditch. He made his way over to his bomber, but it was blown up. He spent the next few days burying his friends and comrades.

Posted by: Teri Pittman at December 7, 2016 12:22 PM

I listened to a veteran's first hand account of the Pearl Harbor battle once. He was an older guy in my National Guard unit. One junior officer was going the wrong direction as they were running to battle stations, but that only lasted until he was blown neatly through the ladder and became neat squares of goo.

His cruiser survived PH and was later torpedoed in two in The Slot (Solomons). They taught the sailors to cork their anus with their thumbs when they jumped from a height into the water. He said to hell with that and got the enema of a lifetime when he hit. 48 hours in the water with Zeros and sharks patterning them but he survived.

His message in his speech? Survival is a don't give up attitude. I think he really meant that.

World War II in the Pacific was one of the great stories of world history, and yet we've only barely scraped the surface of it. Now, most of these guys are gone, but when we were younger, they were always there - they were our fathers. Damn. That was something!

Posted by: Casey Klahn at December 9, 2016 10:40 PM