Stephen F. Austin State University

Remember Pearl Harbor (December 2011)

Remember Pearl Harbor
by Rickey Robertson

Each year in the United States December7th, 1941 is a date that is being forgotten by this generation. This date, according to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a "day that will live in infamy", but sadly it is being forgotten, with no newspaper or television coverage dedicated to the event. But in this month's column, we are going to remember this day and the service men and women who sacrificed their lives that day so long ago.

On Sunday morning December 7, 1941 the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet was moored in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After a week of training at sea, there were very few early risers that morning. In just a few short hours, they would be awakened to war. Sitting at anchor in "Battleship Row" were seven giant vessels of the fleet, the battleships California, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arizona, and Nevada. Along with the battleships, a total of 94 vessels were in Pearl Harbor that tranquil morning.

At 7:55 a.m. Japanese torpedo and dive bombers began their dreadful attack on the fleet. Throughout the fleet intercoms began blaring "Air Raid ! No Drill!" and sailors went to battle stations. Besides the naval fleet, the Japanese attacked all the airfields on the island of Oahu and destroyed all the planes parked in neat rows. Throughout the attack the American defenders began fighting back, from soldiers on the ground to sailors on the ships. But with the element of surprise, the Japanese destroyed 188 aircraft and damaged 159 others, 18 ships of war were sunk, including the Arizona and Oklahoma, and 2403 military personnel killed and 1178 wounded in the attack. In just a few hours, America's bastion of the Pacific was destroyed.

In this month's column I want to remember the first serviceman from Louisiana killed in World War II, Pfc. Hal H. Perry, Jr. This young man was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor while stationed at Hickam Field. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hal H. Perry, Sr. and was born July 29, 1921. He had attended Newellton High School, Gulf Coast Military Academy in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Tulane University. Pfc. Perry had entered the Army Air Forces on December 8, 1939 and had attended armament school at Maxwell Field, and then in April 1940 he embarked to the Hawaiian Islands where he was assigned to Hickam Field as a rear turret gunner, but was later transferred to Wheeler Field where he attended photography school. After this school he was again assigned to Hickam Field, where he was killed in action on December 7th, 1941. He was the first of many sons of Louisiana to perish in this terrible war. Today, if you tour Pearl Harbor, you can visit the Arizona Memorial and many other sites from World War II. In our fast paced society, let us never forget the battle cry that swept through our nation, "Remember Pearl Harbor!"

And as December is upon us, my wife Patsy and I would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And remember, it is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. A Savior was born who came to seek and save the lost. Happy Holidays from Peason Ridge!

Remember Pearl Harbor