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A Pearl Harbor Reminiscence

5:44 PM, Dec 7, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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My father emailed out this vignette about Pearl Harbor. After 72-years, the event remains something of an abstraction, but I mark the occasion a bit more solemnly than most. Had a plane landed a few dozen feet more to the left, I might not exist:

While it seems to be a fading historical event, December 7th will always be a very memorable day to me.  My family was living in quarters on the base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.  My brother (Tom) and I were pretty young, so my recollections are fuzzy and probably heavily prompted by what our parents recounted over the years. I remember that our building was damaged from some aircraft or piece of a plane, and it started a small fire. It was a 4-plex. We lived in the second one from the left. The damage was to the end unit to the right. 

After the explosions died down, Tom and I found a spot close to our home where we could see the damage to the base and see the ships burning in the harbor. This didn't last long, as Mom found us and made us come back home. There was some concern about the Japanese landing troops, so the neighborhood was in lockdown with armed sailors posted.

My dad was a buck sergeant in the Marine Corps. He was not on a ship, but assigned to the Marine Barracks on the base. As it was a Sunday, he was home when the attack started, but left right away, after putting Mom and the 2 kids under the dining room table. We saw him a few of days later, very briefly, as we were getting on a ship to go back to the mainland. The next time we saw him was over two years later.  He had received a battlefield commission on Guadalcanal and was a captain when he came home.

By the grace of God, my grandfather survived World War II. My father didn't elaborate on the impact that day had on him. But he later attended the U.S. Naval Academy, fought in Vietnam, and after 20 years of service, retired a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. 

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