Monday, January 14, 2013
World War II veterans were among the honorees at a Dec. 7 ceremony held at and led by American Legion Post 166.
There were about 30 World War II veterans in attendance at the banquet, including William Jones. “I was one of the originals,” Jones told The Gazette before the program began. “I was a submarine sailor.”
Jones sailed on the U.S.S. Barb. He said he was in the fleet when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, and when Gen. MacArthur signed the surrender papers.
The first part of the evening was dedicated to remembering the attacks on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago.
“As we gather here tonight, let’s take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in this fateful day in history,” Post 166 member Rick Bernard said. “Let us pause to remember those who paid the ultimate price so we all may live free.”
The oldest veteran present, Charles Day, 94, was honored and given an American flag folded into a triangle and placed in a wooden and glass frame.
Arlington Sanford, a World War II veteran, was the first to speak at the podium. He spent most of his time in the European theater of the war. He retired from the Navy and spent 10 more years in the Air Force.
After the Pearl Harbor attacks morale was low, Sanford recalled. But U.S. Admiral Nimitz said the Japanese made three mistakes during their infamous attack. First, they didn’t hit the fuel supply for the Pacific fleet. Second, the ships in the harbor rolled over but didn’t sink, which likely would have occurred had they been at sea. And third, most of the soldiers were away because it was a Sunday, Sanford said.
The admiral’s remarks about the three mistakes and Doolittle’s raid raised morale, Sanford said.
Today at Pearl Harbor the U.S.S. Arizona and the U.S.S. Missouri are near each other, Sanford pointed out. He said these are the ships that started and ended the war. The U.S.S. Arizona was sunk on Dec. 7, 1941. Today it is submerged at Pearl Harbor and there is a memorial above it. The U.S.S. Missouri is the ship that Japanese leaders boarded in order to surrender.
Tom Sanders, a World War II veteran, said he saw the Japanese “surrender airplane.” The plane was white at MacArthur’s request so it wouldn’t be shot down, and had a green cross on it.
Post 166 member Al Millon, who served in the Navy and is a historian, had two boards of photos at the front of the room, one of which showed the unique aircraft.