Wednesday, December 07, 2011

70 Years Later...

I cannot let this day fade without recalling that this day, December 7, 2011, is the 70th anniversary of the attack by the Japanese Empire on our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - the attack that launched us into World War II. That conflict, both in Europe and in the Pacific, eventually took more than 400,000 American lives during the slightly more than three and a half years of conflict.


Some have said that World War II unified this country to the point that it became THE dominate power in the world from the end of the war in 1945 until, barely, the present date. The late writer and commentator on "60 Minute
s", Andy Rooney (he passed away November 14th) covered World War II as a writer for the Stars and Stripes and reminded us of that time in his life frequently with his commentaries and his books.

I've written extensively about this anniversary for several years - 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. I hope you'll take the time to visit those entries to help you remember this date and what it meant to this nation - what we fought to defeat on two continents simultaneously.


As the members of my parents generation - Tom
Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" - continue to die off I hope you will take a moment to thank those you know for their sacrifice. Every member of American society sucked it up and did their part to help win the war, not just those brave men and women in the military service. My father, for example, was ineligible for military service because of a leg injury, but he worked two full-time jobs for the duration - his regular job and then at least one defense-related job. His brother served in the SeaBees and two uncles on my mother's side served with distinction as officers in the Army. They, and their peers, returned from doing their duty in the war to help build this nation following the war.

In five days my grandnephew, Nathan Harrison, will deploy to Afghanistan for his first tour. He joined the Army right out of high school last year specifically to help win that conflict. In less than two week, at the age of 19, he will find himself in harm's way in a far-off land doing his duty for this country. He is the kind of young man that formed the cadre of the soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II - ready to defend our country's interests, wherever it took them.


Never forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor and never stop supporting our troops. They deserve it.

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Anonymous West misses it, again said...

Thank you Jack Hammet, Costa Mesa resident. Pearl Harbor survivor

12/07/2011 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

That, of course, would be former Costa Mayor Jack Hammett (2 "t"s), but we get your drift and also want to thank Jack for his service to our country.

12/07/2011 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you to all our soldiers who served our country.

12/07/2011 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom Egan said...

Here are some more WWII vets who live in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach. These men and women are members of the Freedom Committee of Orange County, chaired by Jack Hammett ( I'm sure there are other WWII vets in the area, but I don't know them if they're not members of FCOC.

Costa Mesa:
Bob Bankston
Frank Callahan
Jack Cole
Bus Cornelius
Bob Cowley
Bobbi Cowley
Ed Decker
Bob Dugan
Jack Hammett
Dick Higgins
Bill Holliday
Clifford Kraft
Dave Lester
Ted Marinos
Don Oldis
John Skara
Bob Stoddard

Newport Beach:
Bill Anderson
Dick Fariss
George Grupe
Norm Loats
Syd Lucas
Dick O'Brien
Gene Pickett
Harry Rawlins
Harry Selling
Martha Somers
Ted Tanner
Gene Verge

12/07/2011 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Robin said...

For those who like good novels, and can find the time to read these days -A great story -fiction, but a very interesting viewpoint- is "December 6" by Martin Cruz Smith, the author of Gorky Park. It was first published under the name "Tokyo Station"

12/08/2011 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Robin said...

Here's a cool essay going around the internet, author unknown. Wendy Leece sent it to me and I'd like to share it here:

Subject: Pearl Harbor Mistakes !
A very different and interesting conclusion of the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. Read on . . . . Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes.
I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, "Reflections on Pearl Harbor" by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941--Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.
He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat--you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"
Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?" Nimitz explained: “Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800. Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships. Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is on top of the ground in storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make, or God was taking care of America.
I've never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg, Texas -- he was a born optimist. But anyway you look at it--Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism. President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver linings in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.
There is a reason that our national motto is, "IN GOD WE TRUST."

12/08/2011 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

My neighbor, Gerdon Taylor, now 86; served in France.

Over the past 17 years knowing him, I have been honored with stories he would tell about living in trenches; freezing rain and having wet feet all the time.
What amazes me the most is how he tears up each time he starts to remember watching hundreds of men, some were close friends, jumping off the back of landing craft to drowned in deep water from having too much weight on their backs; others being shot or hit with shrapnel.

Then, he would stop his story in mid-sentence when he would begin to explain the horror of seeing thousands of bodies spread over the beach and floating in the surf.

After 17 years, I have yet to hear a complete account of his days at war... GOD BLESS the Veterans for what they did (and still do); and what they have lived with for the past 70 years.

12/08/2011 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

What does "support our troops" mean? If it means sending them socks, brownies, and photos from home, then I'm all for it. (How could I not be?) But if it means "supporting" destructive, boneheaded policies such as those we've pursued in Iraq and Afghanistan and then equating those policies with "supporting our troops," then count me out.

12/08/2011 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Hard to Fathom said...

I heard on the news today that the remains of 2,700 military men were dumped in a landfill somewhere.

12/08/2011 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Hard to Fathom,
You're off by only 90% or so. The actual number is 274, but whether it's 1 or 1,000, the outrage should be the same. You can read about it here:

12/08/2011 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous unbroken said...

The book unbroken is a great read. One which helps me "never forget" what evil lirks out there ready to take away our freedoms, our pride and our contry.

Thanks Geoff

12/08/2011 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Shaw said...

Geoff - my Dad too was inelgible to serve due to health reasons, high blood pressure. he tried to enlist in the Navy before the war and was drafted during, but rejected both times. still, i am very proud of his contribution to the war effort. he worked in aircraft factories helping build planes such as the B-25, B-17, B-26, AT-6 and his favorite, the P-51 Mustang. whenever i meet someone who flew one of these, i like to think he had a hand in putting them in the air. Jimmy DooLittle spoke at the North American plant where the B-25's were built after his Tokyo raid and a picture was printed in the Times. my Dad was able to pick himself out in the crowd and loved to show it to people (as i do now). he also made a plexiglass model of a P-51 which is now on display at the Costa Mesa Historical Society. that said, many thanks to those who have served and those that do now!

12/08/2011 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Shaw said...

oh, i should add too, that he met my Mom on a Victory bus to the plant. if not for that, i wouldn't be writing this now. =^)

12/08/2011 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Our fathers, and in many cases our mothers, too, were loyal patriots who kept those rivet guns pounding and helped turn our industries into a machine that defeated our enemies. Thanks for sharing...

12/08/2011 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Terry Shaw: Cazart! My dad's experience in WW II was almost exactly like your dad's. He, too, was 4-F (he had only one eye), was called up twice and rejected each time, and worked at North American Aviation (safety engineer) in Inglewood, where I was born at Centinela Hospital in 1942. The first model airplane I ever built was a B-25 Mitchell -- naturally.

12/09/2011 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Shaw said...

Mike - well maybe you and i and Geoff should start a "sons of the 4F" club. i find it interesting that they called your Dad back a second time. did they think his eye grew back? those plants were huge, but who knows, maybe they crossed paths. my Dad had to quit NoAm when he reported to the draft. when they didn't take him he ended up working at Douglas the rest of the war.

12/09/2011 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike O'Reilly said...

Terry: I like the "Sons of the 4-F" idea. Maybe we could have T-shirts or something. My dad was last called up in 1945, when they were scraping the bottom of the barrel, anticipating the invasion of Japan, and predicting the war stretching into 1946. I continued the family 4-F tradition in 1967 (asthma, thank God). My dad worked at NAA all his life.

12/10/2011 12:03:00 PM  

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