Monday, December 7, 2009

It Was A Beautiful Day................

In Memory of my friend Dallas "Shackman" Pendergraph

In all that I have read or heard about the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, the most common thread is that all who were there said that it was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm, the kind of day that brought out the tourist. I wonder if the horrors that latter occurred on that fateful day might have magnified the contrast between the beautiful surroundings and the destruction that befell the men at Pearl Harbor. I have also heard several 9/11 survivors comment about how nice the weather was in New York on the day of the attack on the twin towers.

Not many folks know this, but the U.S.S. Arizona had been refueled a few days before the attack, so her fuel bunkers were full. The Arizona took a bomb hit in the early part of the attack which penetrated her forward magazine exploding it and sending her to the bottom with the loss of 1177 of her men. Because of the damage to the ship they could not raise her, so she is still resting on the bottom of Pearl Harbor. A large amount of her oil was not burned off in the explosion and resulting fire so droplets still float to the surface. The Park Service and the Navy have concerns that with the deterioration of the ship's metal, that there may be a major release of oil that will damage the eco-system of the harbor. Survivors of the attack however, say that the Arizona will quit "weeping" oil when the last survivor of the attack dies.

Something else interesting is that Navy and National Park Service policy allows that anyone who was serving on the Arizona on 12-07-1941 has the right to have his ashes interred in the Arizona when they die. The urn containing the sailor's ashes are placed in what is left of the ship's forward turret. I think there less than 2 dozen survivors of the Arizona's crew alive that could take advantage of this. Other Pearl Harbor survivors can have their ashes scattered over the harbor, but the Arizona is reserved for her crew.

Also lost on that morning was the old battleship U.S.S. Utah which had been turned into a target ship. It was said that due to the wood placed on her decks to cushion the practice bomb hits, it may have miss led the Japanese into thinking that she was a aircraft carrier. She suffered so much damage that they couldn't raise her so she also still rest on the bottom. The U.S.S. Oklahoma too was sunk, but they were able to raise her. However the ship's damage was so severe, that there was no attempt at repair, but rather she was stripped for parts and later sank while being towed to the west coast.

68 years ago today, a date that no American should ever forget............

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