Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 1941

December 7, 1941
Coast Guard Cutter Taney Dec 7, 1941
Coast Guard Cutter Taney, Baltimore
USS Hoga, 2007
USS Nokomis, Pearl Harbor, December 7th

This is a rerun of my post last year on December 7th, 2008. The message is eternal.

Each year the memory of The Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941" fades away as each soul who was touched by that event, passes on. This is true not only for the ever dwindling memories of those who lived to experience the event, but of the fading memories of the children who were raised on the recollections of their parents. The third and forth generations barely know what happened on that day and how it effects their lives today.

Today, December 7th Pearl Harbor Day, is remembered mostly by those above, and historians who with each graduation class, produce fewer who care about the study of war.

Taking a look back, it is important to recognize that we preserve the primary evidence of this seminal event in American History. Slowly decaying below the waters of Pearl Harbor is the symbol of that day the USS Arizona (BB-39). In a few decades she will embody the words "dust to dust" as she in her own way returns to the earth that emitted the ore that built her.

There was over one hundred warships and dozens of yard craft in Pearl Harbor on December 7th. Today, there are just three surviving vessels from that day. The best preserved is the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney the only surviving vessel who actually took part in firing back at the attacking planes. The Taney went on to serve in both oceans during the war and after the war, returned to being an patrol cutter with active duty in Korea and Vietnam. She was retired after fifty years of service, and is preserved in Baltimore Harbor as a reminder of her honored past.

There are two lesser known surviving vessels. True to their reputation for toughness, they are both tugboats. The Tug Hoga served in Pearl Harbor during the war and went on to a second career as a fireboat for the City of Oakland, California. Today, she rusts amid other laid up warships in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, while waiting to be transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas where she is to be displayed in a World War II memorial.

The USS Nokomis (YT-142), has an even more interesting story. On duty in Pearl Harbor December 7th, she fought fires and rescued personnel from the water from the outset of the attack. She went on the serve as a yard tug during the war and then spent her elder years as a tug in San Francisco bay. A few years ago she was purchased in an auction in 2002 by Melissa Parker, who then founded the Historical Tugboat Education and Restoration Society, HTERS Home, USS Nokomis. The society is working to restore her to wartime livery, with the funds raised by offering educational cruises on one of her sister tugs.

It is important to preserve these few links to our past. Holding history in your hands and walking the decks of such vessels gives a window to pause and step back in time to have a brief moment to understand the events through the view point of those who were present.

Two other blogs also pause today to look at those less remembered.

EagleOne remembers one ship and it's crew who have been lost to history, in this post entitled: Sunday Ship History: 12-7-41

Somewhere in the miles between Tacoma and Hawaii, a steam ship plods through the ocean. Thirty-five souls are aboard in transit between one place and another. The ship's superstructure is white, her hull dark. She carries the name SS Cynthia Olson. Built in 1918, once named Coquina. She's now part of the Olson Shipping line out of San Francisco. A "steam schooner" they call her - all 250 feet of her. She's got a load of Army supplies and a thousand miles to to go to reach Diamond Head.

Two of the men aboard are in the Army, the rest are merchant sailors, some are veterans of a hundred sea trips, others newer to world of big oceans and little ships. Men on watch, men eating, men sleeping or reading or dreaming. A sailor smokes a cigarette. Another ties his boots. Casual chatter among the bridge watch and the engineers down below watch gauges and spin valves, adding or releasing steam, oil, water.

Out there at sea the ship is not alone. Unknown to the Captain or the crew, they have an unexpected companion. Suddenly a shadow rises from the depths and begins to attack them using a deck gun. The ship's crew radios for help, describing the gunfire from the submarine that suddenly appeared beside them at sea. The radio signal is weak and then gone - the message it carried is shocking - an unprovoked submarine attack on a merchant ship at sea.

CDR Salamander gives his readers a window on that day as seen from the people of Hawaii, in: Hawaii at war.

December 7, 1941 changed America forever in ways that have sent us plunging ahead into a vast new world of wonders and danger. It is important to pause and reflect back, before we loose all consciousness of those times.

1 comment:

troutbirder said...

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