Tag Archives: dead sailors

Pearl Harbor 70 years ago (Part 2)

Uploaded by on Dec 7, 2009

At 06:05 on December 7, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 planes composed mainly of dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. The Japanese hit American ships and military installations at 07:51. The first wave attacked military airfields of Ford Island. At 08:30, a second wave of 170 Japanese planes, mostly torpedo bombers, attacked the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds. Overall, nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged. Three of the 21 would be irreparable. The overall death toll reached 2,350, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 injured. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from Arizona. The first shots fired were from the destroyer Ward on a midget submarine that had surfaced outside of Pearl Harbor; Ward did successfully sink the midget sub at approximately 06:55, about an hour before the assault on Pearl Harbor.

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Here is a portion of an article from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review :

Dwindling number of Pearl Harbor survivors recall that fateful day

By Rachel Weaver and Richard Robbin, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Read more: Dwindling number of Pearl Harbor survivors recall that fateful day – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Most Western Pennsylvanians who survived the “date which will live in infamy” are in their late 80s or early 90s. Here are a few of their stories about that day:

Alexander Dyga of Kilbuck

Pvt. Alexander Dyga of Kilbuck awoke to the familiar sound of his superior pounding on the door of the room he shared with three men at the Army’s Schofield Barracks on Oahu. They worked early to clean mule stalls, before the temperature climbed to 80 degrees.

He was eager to get to the mess hall for breakfast. Instead, he would spend two days helping to move bodies.

“A lot of men had been blown apart,” said Dyga, 88. “It didn’t bother me. I was too young then.”

They carried men from Wheeler Field, site of the first attack, to doctors at Schofield. Dyga saw dead sailors whose burned bodies floated to the ocean surface after ship explosions.

He has returned to Hawaii more than 10 times. He’s there this week, observing the anniversary.

He filled his home with souvenirs marking his trips. Some are fun, such as the plastic hula dolls that line a dining room shelf. Others are meaningful, such as framed photographs of Dyga with other survivors.

A Dravosburg native, Dyga served in the Army and Air Force for a combined 20 years, and worked in utilities and maintenance. He and his wife, Annamarie, whom he met in Germany, married in 1948; she died in 2005. They have a son, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Pearson Harkema of Monessen

Seaman 1st Class Pearson Harkema of Monessen assumed the aircraft flying toward the USS Oklahoma was a U.S. plane, until he saw the red dot on its side.

Then the first of nine torpedoes hit the battleship, causing it to tilt. Harkema slid over the side, hitting his knees on the way into the water. He swam a short distance to shore and thought the rest of the crew would reach safety. More than 400 did not.

A rescue crew found Harkema sitting in oil-soaked clothes. When a Marine offered his clothes, Harkema took them. Years later, Harkema realized that if he had died, wearing clothes with another man’s name stenciled inside, the wrong family would have received notice that their son was dead.

“You never think about things like you do in later years,” said Harkema, 91, seated with his wife of 60 years, Marion.

He never returned to Pearl Harbor.

“I had my fill on Dec. 7,” he said.

Harkema went on to serve with the Navy aboard the USS North Hampton and battleship USS Indiana. He worked in steel mills for 30 years. He and Marion have two children and two grandchildren.

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