Family Stories: Dec. 7, 2021: Remembering Pearl Harbor Day

The USS Arizona

December 7th is always a day to stop and remember those who lost their life on that tragic morning of the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor by Japanese kamikaze pilots. Although we had no immediate family in the service at that time… those events certainly pushed our family men to join and serve. Both Steve and I have many family members who have served in the past and present… and they are featured in a post over HERE. It seems that most of our family members who joined, or drafted into the many branches of the Navy, Army and Air Force, were a few years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor… but they were old enough to know and remember that tragic day… and most likely it was what prompted them to want to serve their country. My father was 13 years old on that tragic day… and later at age 15 he joined with a fake ID… he possibly had wanted to go and serve in the Navy from the young age of just 13?

Thank You for your service!

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With the bombing of Pearl Harbor… it caused many to leave school… wanting to go fight for their country. On a visit to the West Haven Veteran’s Museum in West Haven, CT. in 2015, I discovered a framed document listing the boys who left school from West Haven Hight School. I was so touched by the framed list of boys names that I came home and immediately blogged on its story and listed all their names… read over at Lost Files.

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All the names are transcribed on my post Lost Files of 2010

Every year on December 7th, many Pearl Harbor survivors, veterans, and visitors from around the world come together to remember and honor the over 2,335 service members and civilians who were killed that early morning when the Japanese attacked. There were also another 1,178 people injured in that attack which permanently sank the USS Arizona and the USS Utah… and destroying over 188 aircraft.

On August 23, 1994, the United States Congress designated Dec. 7th as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day… and remembrance events are held yearly at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii. The USS Arizona Memorial there marks the final resting place of the 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Arizona during the attack; there were also twenty-three sets of brothers who died aboard the USS Arizona. Only one set of brothers survived the attack that early morning… Kenneth and Russell Warriner. Thomas Augusta and son William Augusta Free, the ship’s only father-and-son pair, were also killed in action.

Even today fuel continues to leak from the USS Arizona’s wreckage… and many who visit will see the look and smell a slight odor of fuel alongside the museum. The reason for so much fuel leaking is that the Arizona had taken on a full load of fuel (1.5 million gallons) as they prepared for a scheduled trip to the mainland later in the month. It was that fuel which fed the explosion and fires that destroyed the ship, and after 80 years, the Arizona still continues to spill up to almost 9 quarts of oil daily into the harbor. There have been some former crewmembers who survived, who have chosen the USS Arizona as their final resting place… back alongside their brothers.

The USS Arizona took the largest casualties… hit four times by Japanese bombers, which caused it to eventually sink. All 21 members of the U.S. Navy Band were killed as they were on deck preparing to play music for the daily flag raising when the attack began.

Casualties and Losses

4 battleships sunk, 4 battleships damaged, 1 ex-battleship sunk, 1 harbor tug sunk, 3 cruisers damaged, 3 other ships damaged, 188 aircraft destroyed, 159 aircraft damaged, 2,335 killed, 1,143 wounded, 4 midget submarines sunk, 1 midget submarine grounded, 29 aircraft destroyed, 74 aircraft damaged. Civilian casualties; 68 killed, 35 wounded, 3 aircraft shot down.

Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed

December 7, 1941…

“A Date which will live in Infamy.”

It was the attack on Pearl Harbor which led the US to enter World War II and for many young men and women to quit school and join the military.

While there seems to be no truly exact number of veterans still living today in which survived that early-morning attack on our soil… the best number found seems to be 75. There were also many survivors who chose to put all that behind them and remain in the shadows, but there were many who told their stories from that day… and we are grateful that they have shared their pain and experiences with the world...

Thank You!

David Russell (Photo Credit AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

101-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor, U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class David Russell, along with other veterans, attended this years ceremony in Hawaii (2021) in remembering that historic day… Russell served onboard the USS Oklahoma.

Never forget those who defended our country on that fateful day… they made the ultimate sacrifice!


© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

More Family Stores HERE.

More of Hubby’s Family Stories can be read HERE.

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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4 Responses to Family Stories: Dec. 7, 2021: Remembering Pearl Harbor Day

  1. Evelyn S Smith says:

    Daddy was in the Navy at that time, having enlisted in August but I don’t know where he was serving on that day. I need to look more closely at the records I’ve uncovered of his service.

    Liked by 2 people

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