Six things to know about World War II after Pearl Harbor (+video)

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bones from Pearl Harbour tomb ship may be identified 74 years after the attack.

For the first time, archeologists have been able to map and image the sunken fleet of seaplanes destroyed in a prelude to the Pearl Harbor attack exactly 74 years ago.

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – Inside an old aircraft factory here, behind the glass windows of a pristine laboratory, the lost crew of the USS Oklahoma rests on special tables covered in black foam. To commemorate the anniversary, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Hawaii have released rare images of one of the sunken planes today. Their bones are brown with age after 50 years in the ground and, before that, months entombed in their sunken battleship beneath the oily waters of Pearl Harbour. Although, the Harbor’s sunken ships, where a rainbow-like sheen of ever-leaking oil reflects off the surface of the ocean, mark a unique memorial themselves, many forget that remnants of the earlier attack lurk in a nearby bay. Roosevelt Presidential Library, thanks in part to support from AT&T, includes over 46,000 pages of drafts, reading copies, transcripts and their audio files from Roosevelt’s 12 years in office — all online and free to the public.

They are the unidentified remains of hundreds of sailors and Marines who perished 74 years ago Monday, when Japan launched a surprise air attack on Hawaii and plunged the United States into World War II. Now, seven decades later, the government is trying to put names to the old salts and teenage sailors who died when their ship was sunk by enemy torpedoes Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941. He said the military was also working to “keep the alarm bell from sounding in the first place” by refocusing its attention on Asia and the Pacific region with the aim of maintaining stability, prosperity and peace.

Over the past six months, with a fresh mandate from the Defense Department, the bones were exhumed from a cemetery in Hawaii and most were brought to a new lab here, where scientists have begun the task. “It’s important for the families,” said Carrie Brown, an anthropologist with the newly created Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is doing the work. “For a lot of people, it’s an event that happened in their family history,” she said, and that story “has been carried down sometimes (for) generations.” “A lot of people say, ‘World War II. Its message of resolve and determination in the face of a devastating attack is as relevant today as it was then.” And it was written almost entirely by Roosevelt himself, not by speechwriters or his advisers. A fellow sailor saw a Rising Sun insignia on the wings and asked Irwin if he knew what the “red ball” was. “It brings back some lousy memories,” said Irwin, of returning to Pearl Harbor.

But he comes to the annual ceremony because the attack was a “big thing in my life.” Irwin served as firefighter in San Francisco after the war and retired in as a lieutenant in 1979. They’ve been not home for too long.” At 7:45 a.m., on Dec. 7, the USS Oklahoma’s 24-member band, like the bands of other ships in the harbour that day, had assembled on deck for the morning colors ceremony.

His close adviser, Harry Hopkins, would make the only other addition: “With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph— so help us God.” The State Department was also pressuring Roosevelt to deliver a much longer, historical speech that detailed the U.S. Almost certainly present on deck were Musician First Class Henri Clay Mason, whose wife, Mary May, lived on Park Road, in Washington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood; the band’s leader James Booe, of Flagler County, Florida; and bugler Lionel Lescault, of Worcester, Massachusetts. He told the officer of the deck to sound general quarters. “About this time I heard a plane overhead,” he later told a congressional committee. “I glanced up. And as radio in the 1930s and 1940s became a way to reach the masses, he embraced it like any other with his regular “Fireside Chats.” Though he didn’t actually deliver them beside a fire, his rhetorical gift was on full display in the regular addresses, using common words and a conversational tone to reach the American public. “In his own mind, he imagined sitting at a kitchen table and talking to his neighbors,” Sparrow said. “They have much more of an explanatory tone. Many are very instructional.” With the full digitization of their files — the first presidential library to complete such an undertaking — speeches that once had to be viewed only in the library’s archives rooms can now be seen by the public, where they can see for themselves how Roosevelt helped shape the legacy of presidential oratory.

Thirty-two were rescued by intrepid crews who heard them banging for help, cut into the hull and made their way through a maze of darkened, flooded compartments to reach them. Harry Gaver Jr., who was born in Annapolis and whose father had taught at the Naval Academy; and Machinist Mate Eugene Eberhardt, of Newark, New Jersey. “For years on Memorial Day we bring out his picture and toast him,” she said in a telephone interview last week. “Everybody loves him, and we have loved him forever.” She still has the telegram his father got on Dec. 20, 1941: “The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son . . . is missing following action in the performance of his duty.” “It brings up really hard, hard memories,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “It was a very tough time for the family. . . . It was very difficult.” In the months, and years, after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the handling of the crew’s remains was plagued by error, confusion and poor record keeping. Most of the dead were found in the wreckage during the months-long salvage operation, especially after the Oklahoma was righted in 1943, according to a memo by DPAA historian Heather Harris. “You have the remains that are in the water, they’re in the ship, they’re decomposing in place,” said Debra Prince Zinni, a forensic anthropologist and a manager with the DPAA’s main lab in Hawaii.

The lab made an effort, collecting what looked like complete skeletons, wrapping them in bundles of white cloth, and placing the bundles in scores of individual metal caskets. In 2003, researcher and Pearl Harbour survivor Ray Emory, now 94, used files he unearthed in the National Archives about one Oklahoma sailor to get officials to dig up a casket believed to contain his remains.

Following these discoveries, the Pentagon last April announced plans to exhume and identify the rest of the Oklahoma’s “unknowns,” now estimated to be about 388. He twice fainted from fumes but entered flooding compartments to drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were being submerged in oil. “He saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack,” reads his Medal of Honor citation. Blown overboard by the explosion of the Arizona, to which his ship was moored, Captain Young swam back to his ship through burning oil, boarded it, and directed its movement away from the doomed battleship to a safe anchorage. Ensign Francis Flaherty remained in a turret of the capsizing USS Oklahoma, holding a flashlight so that others could escape, thus sacrificing his own life.

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