Sunday, December 7, 2008

Remembering Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941...
The Japanese planned a surprise strike on Pearl Harbor. My StepDad was there!

In 1976, he organized a local chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors. In 1976, there were 64 members. Today there are 12. I am so honored that I was able to attend a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony with him today at the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum. Please enjoy the photos from the event!

He was also featured in The Pensacola News Journal this morning. He talks about the scrapbook that I helped him create with stories from all of the survivors. I thought I would share.

From the Pensacola News Journal
December 7, 2008

They survived the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 67 years ago. And when they formed a local chapter of Pearl Harbor survivors in 1976, there were 64 of them. Today, there are 12.

They'll meet this morning for the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum.

They're the last living reminders of one of the most tragic and life-changing moments in United States history — the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which killed about 2,400 Americans and plunged the United States into World War II.

"We're losing our buddies," said John Rutledge, 89, president of the local chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. "You become aware of the fact that there's not too many of us left."

This past year, three chapter members died, including John Cumming, who was chapter president. He was 88 years old.

"That was a big loss for us," said member Jay Carraway, 86, a founder of the chapter and its current treasurer. "He was a great leader and really instrumental in helping us get that memorial stone."

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Stone — a marker honoring all survivors of the attack — was dedicated at Barrancas National Cemetery last year.

Carraway said that it's important that, as survivors die, their stories are preserved for history's sake. That's why he's compiling a scrapbook filled with pictures and testimonies of area Pearl Harbor survivors. He hopes to give the book to the National Naval Aviation Museum when it's completed.

"It brought the country into war," Carraway said. "And it brought the country together for one common purpose — to win the war."

Sunday surprise

Carraway was a 19-year-old seaman aboard the USS Hulbert during the Pearl Harbor attack. He was in the forward crew compartment waiting for the mess cooks to bring breakfast down from the galley when the message rang through the ship: "Man your stations."

The young sailor and most of his buddies thought it was a drill.

"We just yelled 'Get our breakfast down here,' " Carraway said. "We don't drill on Sundays."

But it was no drill. A nearby explosion that rocked the ship proved it.

Carraway rushed topside, and for the next few hours he manned an anti-aircraft gun that targeted Japanese attack planes.

"They were flying so close," he said, "that you could see the pilots' faces."

Rutledge, 89, was a Navy musician assigned to the battleship USS California at Pearl Harbor. The night before, the ship band had competed in the Battle of Music, a musical competition between the California and other Pacific Fleet battleships.

Caught off guard

On the morning of the attack, Rutledge, with his drum at the ready, was preparing to play morning colors when a large swarm of airplanes approached. Rutledge thought the planes might be U.S. planes running training missions.

"A plane just broke through the clouds and dropped something," he said. "I just wondered what was going on. These kinds of things didn't happen on a Sunday."

Then the bombs started exploding all around. Soon after, the California was hit by two torpedoes, throwing most of the band members, including Rutledge, into the water.

Rutledge swam through oily water and debris to nearby Ford Island, where he was pulled ashore.

Later, he would help transport the wounded to hospitals.

"We lost a lot of people that day," Rutledge said. "And it's important that we don't forget them and what happened."

He'll be at today's ceremony.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," he said. "And we all feel the same way. Everyone who was there and lived through it, we're buddies for life."

To all of the men and women who have served our country or are currently serving... Thank you and God Bless!


1 comment:

Jane ... said...

Tina, I have "glory bumps" reading your post, and wish I could thank your father and give him a hug in person, but will trust you to do that for me and for all Americans--for his service and patriotism. How wonderful that you could accompany him to the Pearl Harbor day remembrance, help him make a memory album, and help him share his experiences so that others may know and remember too. I made an album with & for my dad, 87 years young now, a radio code communications specialist for General Patton in the European theater. My parents & my family live 500 miles apart now, but I go every 6-8 weeks to visit for a week. It's so important to honor & cherish our parents. Love from Missouri!