Posts Tagged war

Pearl Harbor Day 2020

This is Pearl Harbor Day 2020.  I was seven years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I didn’t understand much about war, but I did understand how it impacted our family. My grandmother was so upset when my Uncle Jack was drafted. At first he was stationed at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.  My grandmother walked the three blocks from her house to ours to beg my dad to take her to see him. Something my dad could not do. My dad along with three others did go to visit him when he was stationed in Arkansas.

My cousin Sarah was equally upset when her husband Clarence volunteered as were cousins Mildred and Margaret when their husbands were drafted, I did not know that Dwight Knight, Margaret’s husband, had been part of the D Day invasion until I read his obituary years later. Carl Hanna, my Aunt Sally Lou’s son, was the clerk for Admiral William Halsey Jr. The story was that he got the assignment because he was the fastest typist in the Navy.

We had air raid drills at school. When the alarm sounded, we got under our desks. We had drills at home. We turned out all the lights and closed the curtains or shades. My dad was an air raid warden and wore a fancy armband. At church we prayed that the war would be over soon. Of course, God was on our side against our godless enemies. At the movie theatre there were news reels about the war usually featuring General Douglas McArthur. Sugar and gasoline were rationed. My parents bought War Savings Bonds at work and my sister and I bought War Saving Stamps at school. Stars were placed in the windows of the homes when a loved one had been killed in battle.

There was great anguish when we learned that my friend’s father was a prisoner of war. He was one of those captured at Bataan. There was great rejoicing when he came home after the war, a skin and bones edition of his former self.

President Roosevelt made his famous fireside chats and everyone was glued to the radio to hear them. There was great mourning when he died at Warm Springs, Georgia a few months before the war ended. When I was older Uncle Jack would not tell me about the war. He did tell me about the places he had seen. He brought my dad a new German Walther P-38 pistol from Germany. He said that his unit had captured a factory where these were manufactured.  The Walther P-38 was the weapon of the German Army.

In the summer of 1956 I met Elizabeth Frei, Liz, who would become my wife. Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries to the Philippines before and during the war. Liz and her sister, Joan, were born there. The war then took on a new meaning for me. During one of the 50th. Commemorations of the war, Joan delivered a paper on, “A Child’s View of the War,” in which she quoted then four year old Liz. On our way to Australia in 1991 John Wallace, my brother-in-law, and I stopped in Hawaii. We visited the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. These are awe inspiring sights.

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The Attack on Pearl Harbor – A Family Story

I was seven years old when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place on Dec. 7, 1941. It was a Sunday morning. My most vivid early memory of the aftermath was that my Uncle Jack was drafted and sent for basic training to Ft. Jackson near Columbia about 100 miles away. My grandmother Carnell was at our house every day begging my dad to take her to see him. Of course that was impossible. Dad became an air raid warden. We had air raid drills at Northside Elementary School which mostly consisted of us getting under our desks when the alarm sounded. When I was in the 4th.grade, my dad and three of his friends went to visit Uncle Jack and three others from Woodruff at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas near Ft. Smith. I always have thought it was Camp Cook. None of the four men had much money so they ate a lot of chili on the trip. My teacher’s, Miss Woods, boyfriend was one of those visited. Uncle Jack sent me a horned toad before he went to France. We know that at one point he was stationed near Nancy, France, because in a letter he congratulated my parents on the birth of their daughter, Nancy Francis. Somehow this got by the censors.

Carl, my Aunt Sally Lou Hanna’s son, served in the Navy. He was clerk to Admiral William “Bull” Halsey. Her son-in-law, Dwight Knight was in the invasion at Normandy. My great Uncle Mitch’s two sons, Dewey and Dan Easler were also in the war.  Marion P. Carnell, Uncle Calvin’s son, and longtime member of the South Carolina House of Representatives also served in the Navy. Clarence Wehunt, husband of Sarah Carnell, served in the Army.

My late wife, Liz, and her family were in the Philippines at the time of the attack. Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries, who decided to stay. They were there for the duration of the war without pay. They credit the Chinese Christians for keeping them alive. During the war they relocated to Manila from the Island of Leyte. My sister-in-law, Joan, kept a diary of her experiences. She later wrote and delivered a paper, “A Child’s View of the War.” She delivered the paper at a 50th. Anniversary commemoration of the war. She also included some observations from her younger sister, Liz.

in 1991, my brother-in-law John Wallace and I visited the Arizona Memorial and the American Cemetery in Hawaii.

The Second World War changed all of our lives forever. It changed our nation and the world. President Franklin D. Roosevelt became my lifetime hero followed closely by James F. Byrnes of South Carolina. In more recent years I have grown to appreciate the accomplishments and straight talk of President Harry S. Truman.



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