Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

I am a day late I know. But this is one of those days that can't be left behind easily. Another day that is remembered and soon is not remembered. It's like Sept. 11, or landing on the moon, or ... But now it has been 70 years and those people who can say exactly where they were that day are rare now. In fact, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is disbanding, only 120 people attended the commemoration ceremony of the organization this year.

"The 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Wednesday drew fewer people to Honolulu than for the 60th or 50th anniversaries.
The main reason — there are far fewer survivors of the attack who are still alive today, and they are now in their late 80s and 90s." Pacific News

Infamous Day
The United States Marine Corps, of course, was right there too.
The Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor comprised a Barracks Detachment and two companies, A and B, the men living in a comfortable three-story concrete barracks. Company A manned the main gates at the Submarine Base and Navy yard, and other "distant outposts," providing yard security, while Company B enforced traffic regulations and maintained proper police and order under the auspices of the Yard Police Officer. In addition, Marines ran the Navy Yard Fire Department. Elements of Marine defense battalions made Pearl Harbor their home, too, residing in the several 100-man temporary wooden barracks buildings that had been completed during 1940 and 1941. Less commodious but no less important was the burgeoning airbase that Marines of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 2 (later 21) had hewn and hammered out near Barbers Point -- Ewa Mooring Mast Field, home for a Marine aircraft group consisting of fighting, scout-bombing, and utility squadrons. Infamous Day

A 5-inch/25-caliber open pedestal mount antiaircraft gun -- manned here by sailors on board the heavy cruiser Astoria  (CA-34) in early 1942 -- was the standard battleship and heavy cruiser antiaircraft weapon at Pearl Harbor. The mount itself weighed more than 20m000 pounds, while the gun fired a 53.8-pound projectile to a maximum range (at 45 degrees elevation) of 14,500 yards. It was a weapon such as this that Sergeants Hailey and Wears, and Private First Class Curran, after the sinking of their ship, Oklahoma  (BB-37), helped man on board Maryland  (BB-46) on 7 December 1941.

At Ewa every Marine plane was knocked out of action in the first attack. Two squadrons of Japanese fighters swept in from the northwest at 1,000 feet and dived down to rake the aircraft parked near the runways with machine-gun and cannon fire. Pilots and air crewmen ran to their planes in an attempt to get them into the air or drag them out of the line of fire, but the Japanese returned again and again to complete the job of destruction. When the enemy fighters drew off at about 0825 they left behind a field littered with burning and shot-up aircraft. The men of [Marine Aircraft Group] MAG-21 recovered quickly from their initial surprise and shock and fought back with what few rifles and machine guns they had. Salvageable guns were stripped from damaged planes and set up on hastily improvised mounts; one scout-bomber rear machine gun was manned to swell the volume of antiaircraft fire. Although the group commander, Lieutenant Colonel Claude A. Larkin, had been wounded almost as soon as he arrived at the field that morning, he continued to coordinate the efforts to meet further enemy attacks.  Navy History

 Another day in the life a warlike species, another day to "never forget."

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941View of the Parade Ground at the Pearl Harbor Marine Barracks, between 0930 and 1130 hrs. on 7 December 1941, with smoke in the background rising from burning ships.
Note armed Marines at left, awaiting the possible return of Japanese aircraft.
Navy photos

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