December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor, 65 Years Later -- A Family Connection

Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl harbor by the Japanese. Today's New York Times carries a special section dealing with the recovery from the attack -- with pictures and articles censored and locked away during the war, with a special focus on the civilian shipyard workers brought to Pearl to aid in the recovery.

In the months after Dec. 7, a sleepy shipyard went into hyperdrive, pulling off unprecedented feats of engineering that The Times’s Robert Trumbull described in a series that is excerpted on today’s Op-Ed page. The Japanese had crippled the fleet but left the Navy base’s immense oil storage tanks untouched, making it possible to ramp up the shipyard for 24-hour duty. The Navy and the civilians made it up as they went along: The U.S.S. Oklahoma, flipped with its belly exposed, was righted by a fantastical arrangement of cables and winches out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”

On May 27, 1942, the carrier Yorktown, severely damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea, pulled into port and was immediately swarmed upon by more than 1,400 workers. She sailed out again on the 30th, fit to fight in the Battle of Midway.

The local labor force was supplemented by a flood of thousands of workers, mostly bachelor men, shipped in from the states. Their lives centered around the shipyard and Civilian Housing Area III, population 12,000 at its peak and suddenly Hawaii’s third-largest city after Honolulu and Hilo. It had its own train station, bus fleet, police department, baseball fields, boxing arenas, theater, post office, stadium and football tournament, the Poi Bowl. And it had a newspaper, The Pearl Harbor Banner, filled with small-town news items (“Five Hundred Pairs of Shoes Salvaged Here,” “Fresh Vegetables Now Assured”), photos, sports scores and updates from the front.

One of those civilians was Fred Bagley, My maternal grandfather, who was recruited in Providence, Rhode Island, to help bring the Pacific Fleet back to fighting strength. This special section therefore has a special meaning to me, thirty-seven years after a heart attack took him away from me. I never got to hear the stories that I know he had to share, so I will count this as a chance to learn a little more about him and what he did during the war.

I encourage readers to take the time to read about the work of thousands of men whose efforts were so important to the war, but whose work is often overlooked as we rightly honor those who fought and died.

|| Greg, 06:28 AM || Permalink || Comments (10) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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For those of you you have not had the privilege of visiting Pearl Harbor, there is usually a vet or two walking around, who was actually there during the attack. You have to think that it won't be long before there are none left.

My last visit, there was this wonderful old guy who just started talking to me about his memory of that day. He started out by saying he was a mechanic and was under an officer's jeep, doing some repair when the first bombs exploded. In fear, he said he remained below the jeep, however, out of the door of the hanger, he could see his mates firing up in the air with their rifles. He said that he felt ashamed that he was so cowardly, so he grabbed a pistol that was inside the jeep, ran outside and started firing at the passing planes. At this point, the tears filled his eyes and he couldn't continue. It was only then that I realized the size of the crowd that had gathered behind me to listen to this hero. There must have been 100 people standing in awe of this gentleman. I often think about him and wonder if he is still alive.

|| Posted by S.A.B., December 7, 2006 11:13 AM ||

for the real truth about Pearl Harbor, the above is essential!

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, December 7, 2006 04:46 PM ||

What else should I have expected from you, KKKen, besides a post maligning our nation's leaders and exonorating our nation's enemies.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 7, 2006 07:02 PM ||

The author Stinnett , a Navy pilot "served with distinction" in World War Two."In what part of the military have you served even in a nondescript manner, to merit your "last refuging?"

|| Posted by Ken Hoop, December 7, 2006 07:17 PM ||

KKKen, I need not have served to reject the author's conclusion based upon my analysis of the historical record -- or to reject your compulsive hatred of America.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, December 7, 2006 07:53 PM ||

Much of your foreign policy advocacy brings discredit to what is worth preserving and advancing about America--and the world, as contrasted with the World War Two era, seems to agree, even most of that part the US purportedly liberated then.


|| Posted by Ken Hoop, December 8, 2006 01:58 PM ||

And your ideology repudiates everything good about America, KKKen -- and supports dismembering it to create racist homelands.

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