Remember Pearl Harbor

December 07, 2010

Remember Pearl Harbor

Rick Moran


This Dec. 7, 1941 file photo provided by the Dept. of Defense shows the USS California, right, after being struck by two battleships and two big bombs during a Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sixty nine years ago today, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the empire of Japan without a formal warning or declaration of war. The nature of the attack, and subsequent Japanese attacks on the Philippines, Wake Island, and other strategic islands vital to the allied cause filled the US with a “terrible resolve” as the architect of the attack, Admiral Yamamoto said following the raid.

The blow to our Pacific fleet dealt by the attack was severe, but not a crippling one. Within 7 months, the US navy scored a spectacular victory at Midway that altered the course of the war.

Survivors of the attack are few – and getting fewer as the years go by. From the Delaware County Daily Times:

Today as Edward H. Smith mourns the loss of fellow sailors who died at Pearl Harbor 69 years ago, he will also be contemplating the possible loss of ever again meeting with his fellow survivors.“This may be the last national convention of the Pearl Harbor Survivors because of age. The youngest person is 86 years old. Our numbers are depleting rapidly,” said the 93-year-old Middletown resident, who departed for Hawaii Friday.

He estimates there are 2,000 survivors left nationwide of the 300,000 members of the military who were in the U.S. fleet and at surrounding Army, Army Air Corps and Marine airfields at Pearl Harbor when they were bombed by the Japanese Dec. 7, 1941.

The memory of that day is still fresh in many of their minds:

Augustine Smolik was one of 461 sailors aboard the USS Utah who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor that took the lives of 58 fellow crew members. The 89-year-old Springfield resident does not like to talk about that fateful day, said his wife, Charlotte.

“He was in the water and had to swim through oil and fire to get to the shore,” said Mrs. Smolik.

A gunner’s mate, Smolik was later assigned to the USS Honolulu that was hit twice by enemy fire while he served in the Pacific during World War II. Smolik once again survived.

They aren’t forgetting. And neither should we.

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