Gypsy's Travels


Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Karen McCann Hett has been my memoir writing mentor. We are avid about people putting their life stories on paper / blog / tape, anything to preserve the stories. See her website for more stories of people who remember Pearl Harbor. Time is growing short as many of those who lived through the attack are coming to the end of their lives. No matter how far away they were, everyone was affected.

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, killing more than 2,300 Americans. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. The attack sank three other ships and damaged many additional vessels. More than 180 aircraft were destroyed. The surprise attack came at sunrise. The next day, they attacked Guam and Wake Island; and the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain declared war on Japan and Germany.

Valerie Maris Taylor was in her 80's when I interviewed her in June 2004.
This is her memory of the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

At the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my husband, Jack, was in the Army Air Corps stationed somewhere in the Carribean, Jamaica I think. He had been in Cuba. Pearl Harbor was bombed the day before our daughter's first birthday. War was declared on her birthday. The bombing was a great surprise to everyone. I only had a radio, but it wasn't turned off for several days. I was scared for my husband's life.
It never occurred to me that the USA was in any danger. Daughter and I were living in Baytown, Texas, in a garage apartment. We didn't have a car, so we walked to the Post Office every day to get the mail. If there were no mail in the morning, we went back in the evening. When we finally got mail from Jack, we would rest a few days. Then we would start our routine all over again. Daughter did walk the whole way; she LOVED it. She was 17 months old, when her daddy finally got to come home on leave.
Shortly after war was declared, they began rationing shoes, sugar, canned cream, etc. You couldn't buy electrical appliances. I borrowed an old electric iron from my mother-in-law, and bought an icebox. I had a card to put in the window to tell the iceman how much ice to bring.
I was only 19 years old and had been married for 22 months. I wasn't really concerned about what would happen to me. The real concern was for Jack. I was worried they would bomb the island he was on which was the oil and gas depot for the planes.

Valerie's daughter adds: My dad came home from the war safely. He never talked about his time there but he had the confidence and bravado that is won by those who leave as young men and return as seasoned veterans. He also served in the Korean War and retired from the Air Force after twenty years of service.

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