Pearl Harbor, 75 years later: Memories of a day of infamy

The USS Oklahoma was sunk by several bombs and torpedoes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A total of 429 crew died when the ship capsized. The Oklahoma was righted and salvaged in 1943, and the remains of many crew members were recovered. However, unlike most of the other battleships that were recovered following Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma was too damaged to return to duty. She was eventually stripped of her remaining armaments and superstructure before being sold for scrap in 1946.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 5, 2016

In a two-hour surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, America lost 2,403 fighters with more than 1,100 wounded.

The brutal Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, reverberated around the country and drove the U.S. into World War II.

Adone “Cal” Calderone was there, below deck, when torpedoes slammed into the port side of the USS West Virginia. He and others had to swim through an air vent to safety before the ship sunk.

Richard Schimmel, an Army radar operator, got word of the impending Japanese attack from a fellow soldier but a lieutenant on duty chose not to act on the information.

Jack Holder, a Navy flight engineer, heard the first terrible explosion from inside a hangar before he saw the Japanese aircraft. He set up machine gun pits around Ford Island and manned one for three days and nights, in case of more attacks.

For James Leavelle, his memories of that day would be overshadowed later in Dallas, Texas. On Dec. 7, 1941, he was on the USS Whitney, which was moored far enough from the action that it escaped damage. The crew worked to repair other ships.

More than 20 years later, Leavelle turned up in an iconic photo — escorting accused killer Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

When the 75th anniversary of Dec. 7, 1941, comes this week, these men, and many others, will remember the day that they have never forgotten.


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