President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as a “date which will live in infamy.”
As such, members of the Pahrump Marine Corps League Detachment 1199, area veterans and civilians paid their respects to those who lost their lives 77 years ago, with a special Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony at the Pahrump Veterans Memorial section of Chief Tecopa Cemetery, on Friday, Dec. 7.
Air Force Lt. Col Dr. Tom Waters provided his personal thoughts on the day, which was the precursor of the United States entering into World War II.
Waters, the keynote speaker, also spoke about the historical background of the bombing raid.
“The surprise attack from the Japanese resulted in more than 2,000 deaths and 1,000 injured American servicemen and civilians,” he said.
“The Second World War, or World War II, was the deadliest war in history. It involved more than 30 countries that were either members of the Allied or Axis powers,” Waters said. “World War II started when Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland in 1939. The chief members of the Allied powers included Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the United States and China, while the Axis powers coalition was led by Germany, Italy and Japan.”
Waters also spoke about Hickam Air Force Base, just a short distance from Honolulu International Airport.
The base, he noted, still bears the scars of the attack.
“I spent a lot of time at Hickam Air Force Base and the shell marks on the buildings were never repaired, but only painted-over as a reminder of the attack. They lost a lot at Hickam Air Force Base, and to this day, they can still see the wounds of war at Hickam Air Force Base, by looking at the buildings.”
Though local resident Barbara Temple, a member of the Pahrump Marine Corps League was just a young girl at the time of the attack, she tearfully recalled the events of Dec. 7, 1941.
“I was 6 years old when Pearl Harbor occurred,” she said. “We were listening to the radio at the time. My grandfather was reading the comics to us kids, as we were listening to the radio. They cut in with a bulletin that said the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I had three uncles who served in World War II.
“Every single one of them were lost. At the time, we were living in Portland, Oregon. All of the liberty ships were built in the Portland area,” Temple said. “There were six Navy yards and my dad and my mom worked in the shipyards. It was a very rough time. I have vivid memories of the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor.”
Regarding last Friday’s observance, Temple said it was very touching.
“I am not a veteran but my husband Bruce, who is the Marine Corps League commandant is, and he also served in Korea. I thought today’s ceremony was beautiful. I could not help but cry every time I hear taps on the bugle, I just start tearing up.”
Chaplin Tom Gilbert of the local Disabled American Veterans organization, also attended the observance.
“Today’s ceremony was very well organized, but I was a little disappointed in the turnout,” he said. “I don’t know whether it was due to the weather or people couldn’t get away from work.”
Gilbert also noted that one of Nevada’s oldest World War II veterans, William “Bill” Daily, was in attendance.
“I think it’s very important that we take the time to remember all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Gilbert said. “I was born in 1942, so it was less than a year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.”
During the remembrance ceremony, which included a presentation of the colors, and additional rites, including three rifle volleys, and the ringing of what’s known as the “Freedom Bell,” retired Marine Corps veteran Jose Tellas performed a wreath-laying and dog tag placement formality.
Waters, meanwhile spoke of the number of popular motion pictures that were inspired by the attack on Pearl Harbor, including, “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998, and “Flags of Our Fathers” in 2006.
“I hope this ceremony has inspired each of you to remember Pearl Harbor and the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform,” Waters said in closing.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On twitter: @sharrispvt
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to state that William “Bill” Daily is one of Nevada’s oldest World War II veterans.