Friday, December 7, 2007

Remembering Pearl Harbor

I am not the history buff in my family, but I am of a long line of family who have years of military service.

There are only 23 remaining survivors linked to the ship that now rests in the waters of Pearl Harbor. Two of them live in Northern California. Louis Conter, 86, who lives in Grass Valley speaks to schools about his experience. He says the USS Arizona went to sea November 26, the same day the Japanese fleets left their country headed for the U.S. "We came back the fifth, Friday. We shouldn't have come in until Monday." he said. That Sunday morning, the USS Arizona band was getting ready to play when the Japanese first fired, shortly before 8 a.m., and within a few minutes the ship had been hit with a number of bombs.

Conter followed his lieutenant commander's orders to help keep calm, by whatever means necessary, those who had been injured or burned. Conter said he had to prevent crew members who had been burned or those trying to escape fire or explosion from jumping off the ship and into the oil-clogged water."

"It was burning all around us." he said. "We grabbed them, and laid them down on deck. The ship was settling in the muck. We picked up bodies and body parts and people for a couple of hours."

The work didn't stop after Conter abandoned ship. He was among those fighting fire from Sunday until Tuesday, December 9. "We got our first sleep Tuesday night after Sunday morning." he said. You can read the full interview at written by Loryll Nicolaisen.

I think it is people like Louis Conter who are our real heroes. The men and women sent into combat, no matter how they personally feel about the conflict, who do the best they can to fight for freedom with the least loss of life.

Today, let's honor all of our Veterans and the families that support them.

1 comment:

Al Wright said...

Kathy- Thanks for your reminder of "the day of infamy". Your personal message brings the event from 66 years ago more into focus for us, so that it's not just a historical footnote.

My dad was a young sailor during that war, and although he didn't talk much of his experiences during the war, I do know a little. Early in the war, he was on a "baby flat top" carrier escorting merchant ships to England, and he told us of the convoy being attacked by German subs. Some of the merchant ships were hit, and he was anguished that they couldn't stop to lend assistance to survivors; they had to keep moving and keep the rest of the convoy together. Imagine how that must be to see a ship burning and sinking, and knowing that there would be men in the water, and leaving them to their fate. To all men and women who have served, thank you.