As survivors die, Pearl Harbor remembrance shifts to sons and daughters

Tuesday’s annual Pearl Harbor Ceremony at the USS Midway Museum in Embacadero, San Diego included a particularly compelling vintage plane “missing” flyover.

For the first time in almost 20 years of event history, Pearl Harbor survivors did not attend. In areas where there used to be hundreds, few are still alive.

Instead, the focus was on survivors of survivors, descendants of one of the most important events in American history, the commemorative torch: December 7, 1941, 2,400. A surprising aerial attack by Japan that killed an American in Japan was injured. Another 1,200 people destroyed the Pacific fleet and forced the United States into World War II.

“This is the best way to honor my father by making sure people never forget,” says Kathleen Chavez, daughter of Rey Chavez, the quartermaster of the minesweeper Condor during the attack. I did.he Died in 2018 At the age of 106.

Half a dozen relatives of Kathleen Chavez and the other survivors advanced during the 30-minute ceremony for one of their emotional high points of throwing a wreath into the water from the Midway flight deck. They were part of a crowd of about 200 people on an aircraft carrier to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

For Patrick Schenkelberg, this was the first memorial without his father, Clayton. Died in April At the age of 103. They attended the Midway rally for about 10 years in a row. Elder Schenkelberg was a torpedo soldier at a naval submarine base when a Japanese plane stormed.

On December 7, 2019, Navy survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Clayton Schenkelberg, his great-grandson Navy NCO Patrick Schenkelberg threw a commemorative wreath from the USS flight deck into San Diego Bay. I saw Midway Museum. Elder Schenkelberg died in April.

(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

“It’s really difficult,” said his son in tears. “When we were driving here, I thought with my dad what this meant for him. Now it’s up to us to continue. That’s why I’m here.”

About 50,000 U.S. military personnel were on Oahu when it was attacked, but no one knows how many are still alive. There is no official list. It’s probably hundreds, if not double digits, now.

They first began to feel their presence when they formed the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in the late 1950s. At its peak, there were about 30,000 members in dozens of cities across the United States.

San Diego had a long relationship with the army and was believed to be the largest branch: nearly 600 members. Swallowing their pride to naval officials and badged to name the ship after Pearl Harbor was also rarely influential. The ship is a dock landing ship based here.

The survivors adopted the slogan. Stay alert to America. Immediately recognizable in Hawaiian shirts, white trousers, and garrison hats adorned with medallions, they went to the classroom for decades, riding parades, legislative leaders, citizen groups, and Hollywood filmmakers. I talked to someone.

San Diego continued its chapter for another eight years, while national survivor organizations were closed in 2011 due to a decline in numbers.this is Final rally Two veterinarians have arrived, Schenkelberg and Stu Hedley, 97, a sailor apprentice on the battleship West Virginia.Hedley Died this yearAlso, in August.

The photos of the two taken during the last meeting were sitting on an easel next to the podium during the ceremony on Tuesday.

The keynote speaker was Navy Cmdr. Bralin KathyLeads the guided missile destroyer USS John Finn. It is the hero of Pearl Harbor and is named after the sailor of the aviation gun stationed in Kaneohe Bay when a Japanese plane strafed on its way to Battleship Row.

Cmdr.Bralin Kathy, right, commander of guided missile destroyer USS John Finn

Cmdr. Bralin Kathy, commander of the missile destroyer USS John Finn, is preparing to throw a wreath into San Diego Bay on Tuesday.

(KC Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Kathy talked about how Finn wrestled with a .50 caliber machine gun at a wooden indicator and fired at the plane like a wave. He refused to stop after being injured 21 times with bullets and shrapnel, and allegedly shot down at least one.

Finn received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for military combat courage. He eventually settled in East County and died in 2010. I had my 101st birthday for two months.

The warship bearing his name was commissioned in 2017 and carries 340 sailors. Kathy said that her motto, “Stop and Fight,” is a reflection of Finn’s actions in Pearl Harbor.

Some people shook hands with Kathy after the talk. Among them was Ellen Derby McCallum, whose father Woody Derby was on the battleship Nevada many years ago. She was once a junior high school teacher at Lakeside, hosting her father and other Pearl Harbor survivors and giving lectures in numerous classrooms. He died last year at the age of 101.

“It’s in us now,” she said.

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