Remembering Pearl Harbor: 69 years
A newsreel of the Day of Infamy:
Charlie Webb was shaving aboard the USS Maryland on Dec. 7, 1941, when the call to report to general stations went out.
The Maryland was on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, and Pearl Harbor was being attacked by Japanese forces.
Webb, 92, who lives at the Holy Comforter House, said he didn’t even have time to finish shaving.
“I got one side of the face shaved,” Webb said, “and it was a week before I got through with the other.”
He said he heard machine gun fire just before the call to general quarters went out.
Webb said he thought since it was Sunday morning, “Somebody’s in trouble. They don’t fire on Sunday.”
He later found out the sailor firing the machine gun was the first to shoot down a Japanese torpedo plane. The man had been at his station reading a comic book when he saw a plane with the Rising Sun insignia diving in and began firing…
And a survivor on the USS Arizona reflects:
Navy veteran Louis Conter was a young sailor standing watch on the quarterdeck of the USS Arizona when Japanese bombers swarmed the skies over Oahu and attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor 69 years ago.
Within minutes that Sunday morning, the Arizona itself had exploded in flames, smoke and pandemonium. Conter was among the fortunate few hundred men to get off alive as the battleship crumpled and sank at its berth, taking 1,177 of its 1,400-member crew to their deaths.
The loss of life aboard the Arizona accounted for nearly half of the 2,390 Americans who perished at Pearl Harbor and other attack sites on the island on December 7, 1941, the day that drew the United States’ into World War Two.
On Tuesday, as he has for 10 years on every anniversary of the surprise attack, Conter, now 89, will lay a wreath at the shrine built over the Arizona in memory of the dead, including the sailor with whom he was standing watch that morning.
…Conter is part of an aging and ever-dwindling contingent of survivors still attending the annual commemorations. About 200 of the estimated 2,000-4,000 Pearl Harbor veterans alive today are expected to return on Tuesday.
There are only about 20 survivors left from the USS Arizona, and just five are healthy enough to travel, he said.